Sunday, April 13, 2014

Who are the Regular Folk?

Do you know who the regular folks are in your cities? I do and don’t. Maybe they change depending on what I need from them. I know who they are in Rhum - They’re brewers and potters, cranking out their products in factories. They’re bigger folks - 5’9” on average, broad shouldered, stout (OK - chubby, but still strong). They’re wearing wool and deerskin. They are carrying knives and “stickers” (a single pronged fork, for all practical purpose). Yeah - I know these beer drinking working men.

I know who they are in Brinston too. The working class work in horrible conditions, often producing chemicals or glass for the various industries. The lower class are mainly porters/stevedores or worse yet, fishermen, barely surviving on the sandy river bank by the ocean. The upper classes and the soldiers don’t have it so bad. They have their private clubs where the world’s best wines pour in great quantities. They can all smell the sea throughout the city, except maybe for the chemical workers who have had their sense of smell seared from their noses. They’re uppity, even the lowly fishermen, convinced that they are the salt of the earth and their culture dominates. Well, in a lot of ways it does. Short, dark haired, following the fashions as they come down the river from the elven lands, these urban folks cannot imagine what it would be like to live in a smaller less important city.

I know who they are in Forsbury. The caravaneers who leave their wives and families to go out for weeks or months at a time, the vital link in the trade world. Those that stay behind are still working for the caravans - either manning the warehouses or working in some clerical or administrative role. They have the best of trade - just like the folks in Brinston, but like so many of those folks, they don’t have the money to appreciate it either. Still, they have their local churches, where some of their wives spend all day when they aren’t in town, listening to preachers who are the fantasy world’s version of talk radio.

Why does it matter? First - I like local color. If you’ve read more than one of my posts and didn’t get that, you may have been asleep. But even for those of you who don’t care about the role-playing - What happens when your player character thief tries to pick some guy’s pocket? Can the guy fight? Is he big enough to? Does he have a knife or weapon? Is he paying attention or does he think his city guards will protect him?

In Rhum - They’re big guys, and they all carry knives or daggers. They’ve been trained to box and wrestle as boys - it’s just what they do. In Brinston, they’re smaller, more intellectual, even the factory workers. Yes, the fishermen will be armed and know what to do with that knife, but the rest won’t be. They may have some street smarts, but their culture believes its own propaganda and they probably aren’t as aware as they should be. In Forsbury, they know that half the people in town at any given time are not from there. So many strangers make people wary. They stick to their neighborhoods where they can rely on well-known neighbors. They won’t be armed, but their neighbors are going to have a hatchet or cleaver nearby and will be willing to come help.

Why do I spend so much time figuring out my world, my cities, my cultures? So when someone goes off script, I know what to expect. In truth - I don’t really know who the common folks are in Helatia or Snobist or even Scaret. But I’m learning, and I’m writing notes, so the next time it comes up, I have a base to keep building on.

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