Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Colonist Cultures

The World So Far: An uncharted and largely oceanic world, dotted by islands and coastlines, full of strange wonder, abundant resources and tropical beauty. An incoming force of humans, from a number of distinctly 16th century-feeling cultures, have sailed over the edge of their flat world to arrive here, to begin colonization and eventual exploitation of these resources. The local inhabitants, however, are four powerful undersea kingdoms, full of dynastic struggle, ancient tradition and military might, and are quite unsure how to react to the presence of these foreign colonists.

Nearly forgot again. Not an encouraging sign.

This week, we're talking about the cultures of the various Colonists that've come to inhabit this new world. (Thought: What I really need is a world name, so I can stop shirking around it all the time. Knowing me, it'll probably end up with like, five goddamn names.)

In keeping the symmetry up, I think we'll go with three different Colonist cultures. Or, rather, let's say four, since I've decided I want four undersea Kingdoms. What makes the Colonists interesting and different from the Kingdoms is that they've all emigrated here, to the underside, for a particular reason and I think that reason would be a key way we could distinguish them from each other. Maybe one group is fleeing religious persecution, maybe another group is after resources, like a traditional conquistador, hell, maybe one group is actively seeking converts to their current faith.

I like the idea of combining those two notions, actually. Followers of a persecuted, misunderstood or even potentially sinister religious belief fled their established society on the disc's upper side and came to the underside, looking for a safe place to practice and, what's more, to preach. I like the idea that they're maybe not ethnically similar; people of various appearances and creeds have maybe converted to this Faith and joined the Exodus. (Note: Biblical language is cool there. Hell, the Exodus is a cool name for them. You know what else is cool? Bolding relevant nouns.)

Has the Exodus been successful in their attempt to convert any natives? My instinct is to say no, but I actually kinda like the idea that they have. Maybe some group (Kingdom B or, more interestingly, Kingdom D) has really taken to this strange foreign religion, the faith as spread in a big way.

That all came rather startling fast. I think we have one Colonist culture down. 

I think before we can advance, however, we should look at what the upper side of the disc thought of underside. Punishing criminals was my original thought – they assumed sailing over the edge of the world meant you were going to hell, Odysseus-style. However, if it was possible to simply flip, that creates an interesting situation on the disc's underside.

What happened to all those criminals, you might say?

Sure, many of them are maybe marooned hermits or straight-razor-wielding murderers, but I imagine they had children, particularly if the Colonial Powers have been punishing people in his way for a long time, centuries even. I think a civilization that's been trapped on this side of the disc, sent there against their will or descended from people sent there against their will is totally worthy of a culture.

They might as well be our pirates.

In watching a few episodes of Black Sails, the plotline I was most attracted to was the pseudo-political pirate democracy one, wherein a (extremely fictional) plucky nation of pirates and marauders attempt to fight the naval powers by preying on merchant ships and harming the colonial process. Imagine a civilization of raiders and pirates, disgusted at the sudden influx of the people who sent their ancestors over the falls to die, sailing around in the same funeral or prison barges they were pitched over in, swearing vengeance on the Colonists and forced to eke out a living without all the funding and resources. I think that's Colonial Culture B.

That leaves two more. One obvious choice seems to be the conquering nation, while the other would seem to be enterprising business. All my current ideas regarding these two are, I think, too stereotypical. I mean, there's probably some use of the Spanish Armada and the East India Trading Company, but I can't think of anything to separate them any. Hm. They could maybe be one power, but I don't know, that seems far too monolithically evil.

Explorers are also a possibility, but I can't imagine you'd end up with an entire explorer Culture. Plus, if we had people actively running amok, attempting to map everything, wouldn't they have mapped more things by now? No, I think the explorers are an underclass, the equivalent to artists in Elizabethan society, academics who want to learn more, want to create maps of this new land, but can't convince the powers that be to lend them the crews to do it unless they can convert some natives or mine some gold.

What about two warring nations? Rather than simply and an evil company? A sorta France and England vibe or, better yet, England and Spain – two large and powerful nations on the topside, attempting to put down stakes in this new world. I like this better; extremely superficial differences between them, possibly even geographical or political ones that only apply to the Old World, but enough to make them feel like bitter, bitter enemies. That's much better.

There does need to be a greedy guild running around in there somewhere as well, but that could be figured out. Hm. A topic for a future installment, I imagine.

Next week will be much more punctual, I promise.

Next Wednesday on Worldblogger: Nonhuman Races

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