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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DruidGirl

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    Default Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    So I'm working on creating a culture for a d20 mod/dnd mixed campaign I'm in, and I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions. My character's originally from this culture, so I need to work this out for RPing reasons.

    So far, what we do know is that they live in the driest, most desolate wasteland in the world. I'm talking scorched earth. This has left them technologically defunct and dirt poor. To survive they have to be nomadic, and this means almost no metalwork. At this point, they're still using spears when the rest of the world has moved on to plasma guns.

    A few centuries back, the people tried to expand into surrounding areas, but were soundly crushed and driven back into the desert. There is minimal contact with the outside world, but tribes tend to speak at least one other language than their own dialect (called Longseeker). A few unscrupulous types have been known to arm opposing tribes with more advanced weapons and make bets on the outcome, or hustle tribes for goods and services.

    There are a few oases scattered throughout the desert, and these are usually hot spots for conflict due to the scarcity of water, food, and materials in the area. The biggest diamonds in the world have all been found in this desert, but it's so inhospitable that few attempts at collection have been made.

    On the bright side, they are included in the few people in this world who know about magic, supernatural creatures, and small hairy race of people who live inside the mountains to the southwest. (Probably dwarves, but I put nothing past my DM. I should probably ask more about this.) I'm not sure what the relationship between theses two groups is.

    Devils are common and easily found when you get dehydrated, lost, or both, and a few whole tribes have been known to worship them in exchange for help. (At least one of these tribes has been wiped out by spec ops forces from another country, but that's a different story.)

    Their culture is like a cross between the Bedouins and the Mongols, but there's nothing definite yet.

    I'm looking for suggestions on social structure, religions, laws, visuals, popular classes, fighting tactics, group size, average alignment, or anything else you can think of. There's a lot to be done, and I'd like to get other people's ideas.

    My DM's pretty chill, and will ok stuff if it makes sense, but there are limits. Try and keep it reasonably feasible.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    AstralFire's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    They probably move in groups of no more than a few dozen to minimize the number of mouths they have to feed at a time. What is there to eat in the region? Mutated vegetation or a few lost and dying aminiminimals?

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    A few patches of scrub and grass scattered across the desert, along with a few scraggly trees (Joshua trees and Australian outback type plants I think).
    Shade trees and a few lush or edible plants in the oases. (My God! Shade!)
    There are a few horses, camels, or hunting dogs among the more fortunate tribes.
    Most tribes keep goats, as they don't die as easily as other herding animals like cows.
    Scarce other types of desert life (hawks, rabbits, wild dogs, lizards and such).

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    People with lots of skill (rogues, bards, scouts, ninjas, rangers) would be highly valuable in such a place - need them to keep watch for enemy tribes/greedy freeloaders and be ready to pinch things from unaware wanderers to minimize their trouble.

    Bards would make good tribal centerpieces in such a place - the lore keeper, the morale guy, experienced enough with everything to teach everyone a little bit about something.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Ooo, I hadn't thought of the bards! That's a really cool idea.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    I got that one from Unearthed Arcana a while ago, I've always liked it - but I love bards.

    LN seems like a good bet for a central alignment, due to the harshness of the desert requiring people to band together even when they don't like each other. Their laws would probably mostly apply to within tribe - not outsides, though they could have some elaborate hospitality rituals that all tribes are expected to uphold, as insurance just in case one of their own becomes lost... People from unrecognized tribes wouldn't get the benefit of this, though. Especially not weak outsiders who aren't likely to have a chance to survive, and would just be a burden to the tribe who was hosting them. The hospitality rites would probably still require the guest to help.

    Spouses are probably taken from outside of each tribe, in order to maintain diversity of numbers. You raid a group and take the nice looking ones - but only the unattached ones. Some intricate level of politeness would really be necessary here, for a bunch of separate groups to coexist.

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    RTGoodman's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    If you've got Expanded Psionics handy, I think the Thri-Kreen entry there described their society pretty well, and it's basically what you're talking about (aside from the fact that you're probably not a big mantis-person).

    Also, I'd suggest instead of standard bards maybe you take a look at Savage Bards, Divine Bards, maybe even Savage Divine Bards or something, and maybe even the rest of the environmental racial variants and other class variants. Also, I don't own it, but if the rest of the series is any indication then Sandstorm is probably loaded full of both culture and society fluff alongside good (or, at least, decent) crunch.
    The Playgrounder Formerly Known as rtg0922

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    Neon Knight's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Sandstorm is pretty good. It should aid you immensely.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Sandstorm is good. I've used it quite a bit.

    Great job explaining the hospitality thing: I've been having a hard time articulating how that works in with the raiding other tribes thing. The lost people thing makes a lot of sense.

    I haven't looked much at psionic books, because the classes tend to be broken, but I'll be sure to look that race up! Thanks.

    Savage divine bards. Funny AND genius. Awesome.

    One thing I'm having trouble with is family size. Do you think they'd have one or two children to prevent starvation and focus their energy, or have a lot of kids in an attempt to raise the odds that at least one would make it to adulthood?

    Also, how long would a normal lifespan be, and about when would a person be counted as an adult in the society?

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    I think subsistence farming with lots of kids is more characteristic of less nomadic lifestyles, though that's just off the top of my head.

    3.5 Psionics tends to be fairly balanced as a whole unless you have 1-2 encounters a day, in which case it goes Nova really easy with no drawback.

    I'd probably use the Half-Orc lifespan instead of the Human lifespan, which is pretty comparable early on, but ends about 20 years earlier on average.

    http://www.d20srd.org/srd/description.htm#age

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Good point about the subsistence farming. Makes sense.

    That psionics race was pretty cool. Interesting philosophy.

    I was considering animism as a beginning for the religion, with a good bit of fatalism. Seem legit?

    One thing that I think will come up is gender differences. From what I've been reading, the split in roles between the two genders can be pretty deep in nomadic cultures, but this doesn't make much sense to me. Wouldn't it be more effective for everyone to work at whatever was needed at the time, rather than splitting the jobs based on biology? Or does arbitrarily dividing the labor make it easier to specialize? Story wise, I suppose separation is more interesting. But I have a huge equality bias, so I'd like some other opinions here.

    On marriage: that solved a back story problem I was having. Thanks. Violence makes everything easier to explain lol.

    The half orc age line is pretty good. Very useful.

    Family ties: close and fierce so everyone fights harder for each other in a raid, or distanced so it's more disciplined and it doesn't suck as much when someone eventually dies or gets taken?

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    AstralFire's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Quote Originally Posted by 23minds View Post
    I was considering animism as a beginning for the religion, with a good bit of fatalism. Seem legit?
    Sounds about right, but not fatalism so much as stoicism. They should also have the ability to be joyful, but in focused, subtle ways. Taking appreciation in the small gifts when they do happen. Big on verrrrry long cycle periodic jubilations.

    Or does arbitrarily dividing the labor make it easier to specialize? Story wise, I suppose separation is more interesting. But I have a huge equality bias, so I'd like some other opinions here.
    That. Realize that, er, separate can be equal. (...I'm half-black, I feel very awkward saying that.) But to some extent, it is true. Women and men have their own places, both of which can be equally sacred and important. (Note I mean in context to this fantasy community.)

    Family ties: close and fierce so everyone fights harder for each other in a raid, or distanced so it's more disciplined and it doesn't suck as much when someone eventually dies or gets taken?
    Distant, but... proud of who they are. Like there'd be a day of mourning, and then they don't/very rarely speak of the person again, until they are all but forgotten.
    Last edited by AstralFire; 2008-10-08 at 09:54 PM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Here's my spin on how they'd react to the world around them.

    Bah! We do not need them and their guns of fire - we have the old ways, and the old ways are true. Can the new ways teach us how to find the best oases? Can the new ways teach us how to summon the spirits to serve our whim? We must stay true to the ways of the ancestors, and their ancestors, and the ancestors before them. For to abandon them is to dance upon the sandstorm, to invite utter destruction of our people.

    The old ways are true. The new ways are false. We shall remember, even unto the world's ending.
    freedom in the flame

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Oooo. Stoicism. Hadn't thought of that.

    Lol. Yeah. I know what you mean. There will now be a moment of silence for the awkwardness of that statement (lol).

    Excellent. That very much ties into my character's back story. I figure there's a time limit to how long you can hold out hope for someone being alive after they disappear in the desert. I figured a week average, a month tops. After that, there's not much to be done. It also help with a problem considering burials I was having.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    For to abandon them is to dance upon the sandstorm, to invite utter destruction of our people.
    Oooo. That's pretty. I'm keeping that.
    YES.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    AstralFire's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    I'm sure you're not referencing Happy Feet, but that's all I can think of.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqzNw...eature=related

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    ...
    ...
    ...
    ...Saint's and Proxies...
    *takes deep breath, holds his aching ribs*
    No. No, I will never reference that awful movie. Ever.

    I'm just a humble writer, and phrases like that roll easy to the tongue (or to the fingers, whichever it may be).

    I'll post somemore in the morning. Fluff and world creation is my speciality.
    freedom in the flame

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    AstralFire's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    ...
    ...
    ...
    ...Saint's and Proxies...
    *takes deep breath, holds his aching ribs*
    No. No, I will never reference that awful movie. Ever.

    I'm just a humble writer, and phrases like that roll easy to the tongue (or to the fingers, whichever it may be).

    I'll post somemore in the morning. Fluff and world creation is my speciality.
    ...It's dancing penguins. It's not a movie, it's an extended music video.

    Anyway, I suppose that's pretty standard "screw change" speech, it just looked reminiscent of something.
    Last edited by AstralFire; 2008-10-08 at 10:23 PM.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Oh you people make me laugh! >D
    I'm out for the night, be back tomorrow.
    Thanks all!

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    @OP:

    1. Dune
    2. Dark Sun
    3. ???
    4. Profit

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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Quote Originally Posted by 23minds View Post
    One thing I'm having trouble with is family size. Do you think they'd have one or two children to prevent starvation and focus their energy, or have a lot of kids in an attempt to raise the odds that at least one would make it to adulthood?

    Also, how long would a normal lifespan be, and about when would a person be counted as an adult in the society?
    If they kept moving, it may affect the family size. The normal lifespan is what would mostly determine whether they make babies like rabbits. Is this wasteland rife with disease, or is it merely the fighting between the other tribes that decreases life expectancy? The former would encourage having 3-5 children as 2-4 would be stillborn or disease could catch them when they are young. If it is the latter, one or two children would be the average. Also, since they probably have access to no medicine, other than the occasional unique plant found only in such a place, that cuts life expectancy to 40s on average.

    A person may be considered an adult when they are truly contributing to the tribe, ie. hunters, spinsters, caretakers. Females are usually considered adults earlier as is the real life trend back in the day, and it wouldn't be weird to see a 16 or 17 year old male courting a 13 or 14 year old female.

    The beautiful of each tribe may also be used as bartering tools if they have no warriors or defenders against other tribes.

    I was wondering, you said they were primitive because of the environment they live in. Is this purely technological? Do they have a grasp of physics? Well actually, I suppose they wouldn't. If they were nomadic, they would be way too busy just staying with the status quo. I think it was because of our agricultural advances that we gained the time that was needed to advance in the sciences. Oh well.

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Quote Originally Posted by bosssmiley View Post
    @OP:

    1. Dune
    2. Dark Sun
    3. ???
    4. Profit
    More like shadowrun. Some tribes lost in the Sahara, blasted even futher by megacorps. Common thought is the advance weaponry is given to two tribes out of amusement, it is actually weapon testing from megacorps. Which megacorp's weapons are more idiot proof, easy to learn, and most important: destructive.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Quote Originally Posted by 23minds View Post
    So I'm working on creating a culture for a d20 mod/dnd mixed campaign I'm in, and I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions. My character's originally from this culture, so I need to work this out for RPing reasons.

    So far, what we do know is that they live in the driest, most desolate wasteland in the world. I'm talking scorched earth. This has left them technologically defunct and dirt poor. To survive they have to be nomadic, and this means almost no metalwork. At this point, they're still using spears when the rest of the world has moved on to plasma guns.

    A few centuries back, the people tried to expand into surrounding areas, but were soundly crushed and driven back into the desert. There is minimal contact with the outside world, but tribes tend to speak at least one other language than their own dialect (called Longseeker). A few unscrupulous types have been known to arm opposing tribes with more advanced weapons and make bets on the outcome, or hustle tribes for goods and services.

    There are a few oases scattered throughout the desert, and these are usually hot spots for conflict due to the scarcity of water, food, and materials in the area. The biggest diamonds in the world have all been found in this desert, but it's so inhospitable that few attempts at collection have been made.

    On the bright side, they are included in the few people in this world who know about magic, supernatural creatures, and small hairy race of people who live inside the mountains to the southwest. (Probably dwarves, but I put nothing past my DM. I should probably ask more about this.) I'm not sure what the relationship between theses two groups is.

    Devils are common and easily found when you get dehydrated, lost, or both, and a few whole tribes have been known to worship them in exchange for help. (At least one of these tribes has been wiped out by spec ops forces from another country, but that's a different story.)

    Their culture is like a cross between the Bedouins and the Mongols, but there's nothing definite yet.

    I'm looking for suggestions on social structure, religions, laws, visuals, popular classes, fighting tactics, group size, average alignment, or anything else you can think of. There's a lot to be done, and I'd like to get other people's ideas.

    My DM's pretty chill, and will ok stuff if it makes sense, but there are limits. Try and keep it reasonably feasible.
    Alright. Thinking...

    Social Structure: As said before, tribes. Tribes with looooong memories - you don't do another tribe wrong, or they'll return the favor. The various tribes interact to swap unattached members and keep the blood of the desert flowing in their veins. Now I can't decide whether they should all be seperate or see themselves as one people. Your choice.
    Religion: Have you ever noticed how often Monothiesm comes out of the desert? Really, Animism could work here, but what if these tribes all had their own god? Their own "patron spirit", so to speak. This could explain why some tribes turn to devils - they abandon their patron spirit and erect a new one in its place. Oh, oh! New idea - Reincarnation. Really! With the harshness of the desert, perhaps they believe their spirits are stronger than their weak mortal bodies and will return in a neverending cycle.
    Laws: Stealing - especially water - is a big no-no. There are elaborate rituals of hospitality that must be mantained. Killing someone isn't as harshly punished, because of the hostility of the desert/reincarnation. There are a lot of laws, because whenever a law is made by a tribe it is added to the tribe's Lore, which the Lorekeepers... well, keep.
    Visuals: NO BLACK CLOTHING!!! Dark skin, dark hair, no dark clothing! Trust me, I live in Texas. Perhaps your avatar could possibly be like one of the people. Exotically dyed clothing, but skimpy so that it saves material. Gold bangles and anklets and jewels are heirlooms passed down from generation to generation, and signify close relation to the Chieftain of a tribe.
    Tactics: Hit and run. Spears and Horn Bows - they won't get into a prolonged engagement. They know their desolate land, and they can continue firing at an approaching enemy for miles before he finally catches up. Lots of spearmen, guarding the elite archerers.
    Group Size: Not very many. Probably 50-100 for a tribe, 2-6 in a family. This is a people who are dying, and their numbers are small.
    Average Alignment: Varies from tribe to tribe, and their interpretation of the Lore. Most are LN-TN, but there are those who are CG or NE.
    Time: The people of this land don't view time the same way other places do. Another country could be attacked, then after seven years forget that the attack happened. The tribes would wait two decades for the perfect chance to strike back. They measure long periods of time in lifespans, not years. This is why the tribes sometimes have reputations as bandits and raiders - returning a disservice done to them a century ago.

    Lorekeepers: The bards of this land are known as Lorekeepers - they know the Lore and keep it safe through the ages. They speak the words of the ancestors, and only through them can the tribes hold together with the Lore as their common goal. They are the ones who preform the miracles - they are the ones who trap the sandstorm, who find water where there is none, who duel devils alone. It is very hard to become a Lorekeeper, but to do so is the dream of every young lad and lass.
    freedom in the flame

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    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Tempest Fennac's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Would skimpy clothing be practical in a desert? I's have thought that light coloured thin robes would be the best thing to wear in that environment (at least during the day).
    "It doesn't matter what you think I'm supposed to be, 'cause I myself know all too well." Line from "King of My World" by Saliva.
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Most practical, yes. This isn't always a practical culture we're talking about - this is a culture that has problems getting enough fabric to make clothes, but plenty of interesting beetles to make dye with.

    Hey, if the Ancestors thought is was a good idea...

    Edit: Alright, I haven't actually lived in a desert. All I know is that this is fantasy, and in Texas dark clothes make me HOT. YMMV.
    I may have messed up with the clothes. How about the OTHER things I wrote?
    Last edited by Raz_Fox; 2008-10-09 at 05:07 PM.
    freedom in the flame

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: Looking for suggestions on a culture I'm working on...

    Well, I know that a lot of desert tribes wear a LOT of thin, loose material to protect from UV and keep cool. I've also heard that dying the cloth black helps to create a draft that keeps you cool. It's kind of nifty. Some also use bright colors or black so that they're easier to see against the desert, and harder to get lost.

    Since they keep goats, they have a source of cloth at least. Wool's weird.

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