Culture/Character background - [REJECTED]

Old world development posts that have been reviewed and incorporated or put aside.
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Culture/Character background - [REJECTED]

Post by Roam » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:49 pm

Hey. First post!

[edit - after a fine suggestion, I have moved this post here, where it belongs.]

First of all, please be gentle. Although I used to PBP a lot, it has been a little while and my etiquette was forged years ago on another site. So if I step on any toes or twang someone's banjo, then it's probably an honest mistake.

Second, having read through much of the setting material and few posts, I've got a character concept that's forming, brewing, fermenting but not yet complete. I want a character to come from a certain group (more of that below) but I want to make sure this group is accepted first. Essentially, I want to make sure I'm bringing in a new group that affords everyone else some excitement and writing potential, before drawing a character who comes from it. The important question: Is this the right forum to do this? Apologies if not - please direct me to the right page!

Let me tell you what I mean. I'm creating a faction, a group, of foreigners and I'm bringing some of them to Thar Shaddin. Initially, I'll just be playing one character from them, a lone visitor. However, if things go well and it looks like there's potential, then I'll introduce a lot more NPCs and a few more characters and (hopefully) others will too.

[I know that paragraph reads like a potential god-modder on the rise, but bear with me. And stop rolling your eyes! My intent is humble]

Without further waffle, this is what I have so far. Please read below the bump, and give me some feedback:

Overview – The Roam

“Roamers” is the most common name for them, although different races and regions across Thar Shannin and beyond use many other terms, each usually nastier than the last. Among the more polite ones, the ones you use when the children are listening or when you’re trying to impress a potential husband, are Wanderers, Lostfolk, or Landless. When speaking about them, many affect a mock pity. Thus the urban citizen’s natural disdain for the undeserving nomad, barely disguised by a veneer of sympathy. But once the clocks tick late and beer-soaked tongues begin to loosen, old men recount childhood memories and embellished tales of strange caravans arriving at night, shifty foreigners selling alien trinkets, unexplained mischief and, sometimes, of unspeakable deeds: theft, fire, defilement, and magical curses. Other terms are used then: Witches, Pickpockets, Pilferers, Parasites, and worse.

To themselves, they are simply “The Roam”. Few in number and dispersed, the Roam are exceedingly rare in most people’s experience, so truth about them is hard to come by and often distorted. The Roam are a kind of loose affiliation of nomadic travelling communities. With no fixed home or defined source of income, the Roam live in troupes of several families who travel together, usually in pony-drawn caravans. Spread across Pal Tahrenor, troupes typically travel from town to town, making their way with an opportunistic mix of entertainment and trade. They sell trinkets and items that they pick up as they move, buying cheap where goods are commonplace, and selling high where they are rare. Different troupes provide many kinds of entertainment. Some dedicate themselves to putting on shows, typically conjuring, tumbling and music. A seedier side is often available – gambling, prostitution and forgery are typical. Each troupe varies, some are more unsavoury than others, but always these intelligent, insular travellers do whatever they can to make a few coins or trade for food before they move on to the next town or city, or simply disappear into the wastes to live off the land for a few months.

Stories about them are far more numerous than the numbers of people who have actually met a Roam caravan, and what might be true about one set of Roam may not be true of another. However, there are some common suspicions that do seem to define the Roam as a group, albeit a loose and untamed one. They are probably not all true, some are even contradictory, but these are some of the common stories told by people in places like Thar Shaddin:

- Roam are hostile to outsiders, and even when they seem friendly, their real loyalty is always with their troupe.
- Never make a deal with a Roam and expect to come out on top. Their reputation for being excellent traders, and for always getting the best side of a deal, is universally accepted. They will often have goods highly prized in the places they visit, and will extract the maximum price for them.
- The Roam are a hereditary group different to all other races, and they only mate with each other.
- The roam are not a hereditary group, but just a name for groups of people who lead similar lives
- The Roam know how to put curses on people, to cause misfortune, illness and even death to those who cross them.
- The Roam are masters of sleaze and deceit. Whoring, lockpicking, forging and lying are their main skills. If you want someone to do your dirty work, ask a Roam, but expect to pay handsomely for it.
- The Roam can enchant people, and magically force them to leave their lives behind and travel with them forever. Virginal daughters and children are the most at risk.
- The Roam wish evil and violence on anyone who lives in one place only.
- The Roam can heal any sickness, and ease any pain.
- The Roam can tell the future of anyone they meet, but won’t unless they’re well paid.
- A Roam who accepts a deal will always honour it, or will die trying.

As you can see I'm not looking to define the Roam too much, but to introduce a mysterious group about whom everyone knows the stories, but few know the truth.


P.S. One of the things I'd like to ask specifically is what race you (with more setting experience) think these guys should be. Most of you have probably worked out the Traveller/Roma/Gypsy vibe I'm riffing with, and I want to leave a question mark about whether they actually use magic to curse/enchant/heal/etc or whether it's just plain ol' superstition and ignorance. What's more mysterious in Thar Shaddin - human Roam, elven Roam, or perhaps even Gnomish Roam? (This question won't close anything off - I've already decided that they do mix with other races and sometimes accept outsiders, so I just want to decide what most of them are.)

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Re: Culture/Character background - [W.I.P.]

Post by Saruna » Mon Sep 17, 2012 4:16 pm

I think this is a fine idea, as a more formalized and cultural group of gypsies, but besides the rumored stories I'd also like a more ooc list of how they actually are and behave, as well as a rough estimate of how many they are (hundreds, thousands?).

I think they could be a mix of sentient races, though unless you're going to make your own the most prodominant could be human. They could be shifters, too. Any species can be mysterious, given the right cultural heritage and behavior. The trappings and getup they choose to surround themselves with would have much to do with it, as well as secrecy. Humans would, I think, find the most open doors and have a large enough population to support a large group of wanderers.

As for the magic, all rumors are based from some truth. Perhaps your gypsies know hearth-magic, or are very good with stage tricks. I think that the possibility of them having a magical tradition is absolutely fine. Or, perhaps, a tech one.
#biologicallyconscientious||Characters and threads.

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Re: Culture/Character background - [W.I.P.]

Post by Roam » Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:45 pm

Excellent, I was thinking along the same lines. I'll gather some of those thoughts into a more formal 'definition' post that is a bit clearer.

To start with, here are a few waypoints on my thought-road:

1. There are Roam, and there are Roam.

To most outsiders, these travellers are all Lostfolk, Witches etc (see above). Among themselves, they are Roam, and that term is not completely alien to outsiders. However, when you really get into it there are two types who travel in Roam troupes: True Roam, and Newcomers. True Roam are members of the recognised Roam families, who have followed Roam traditions for generations, about whom the darkest, most mysterious and most magical stories are true. Newcomers are the rag-tag assortment of hangers-on, fellow travellers, ruffians, runaways and romantics who have chosen to join (and been accepted by) the Roam and live by the same code and traditions.

However, as far as talking about themselves to outsiders, they are all Roam. Very, very few people outside the troupes know there is even such a thing as “true” Roam, and the Roam themselves never talk about it. It is difficult and dangerous to join a Roam troupe, but once accepted the newcomer is very much part of the family. A junior member perhaps, but you don’t show your family politics off in public, do you?

2. True Roam are different

True Roam are effectively a separate race (more detail later), although one that seems to have roots in both humans and elves. Even the wisest Roam lore keepers don’t know the details of the origins of their people, but enough stories overlap to know some things. First, the Roam have both human and elven blood – that seems clear from their physical characteristics which borrow from both. Second, they are different from both and have unique features, physically as well as magically and culturally. A many generations ago (some say hundreds) it seems a group of elves and men, perhaps half-elves too, travelled over the seas and found a new land and built cities. Later, they found something, or learned something, and it drove them out. They fled. Dispersed across the world ever since, breeding mostly only among themselves, they have developed a defensive, nomadic existence and a unique cultural tradition.

True Roam have marginally higher status among the Roam, and it is always a Matriarch or Patriarch (usually the former) from a True Roam family who runs each troupe.

Roam look mostly human, although they are taller and leaner and most have a strange palour to their skin, which is unusually leathery. There is something faintly aquatic about them; a milky patina sits on their eyes, and they smell slightly salty, like marshland near the sea. They also live significantly longer than humans. Some say much longer.

3. Ruffians, runaways and Romantics – The Newcomers

Newcomers are part of the fabric of Roam troupes. In some, Newcomers actually outnumber the true Roam. Many were born in the troupes, and have parents who were too. Once Newcomers join, they rarely leave, and they raise their families among the Lostfolk. As far as outsiders are concerned, they are just as much Roam as anyone else. Most are human, though elves and gnomes are not uncommon. Newcomers join for many reasons: to flee a hostile city, escape an unwanted lover, travel the world, experience the romanticism and adventure of a travelling circus, or perhaps they are enchanted by strange Roam magic so they have no choice.

Music, dancing and wonder

I haven’t decided on every trait of the Roam troupes yet, but I am certain that their music and entertainment are legendary. When a Roam troupe arrives outside a city or a town, it most typically sets up a large tent and invites the locals (for a fee of course) to enjoy night after night of music, dancing, acrobatics, performing animals, magic tricks and more at what is, effectively, a travelling circus.

Many things on display are wondrous because they are exotic – Roam troupes travel vast distances and are cunningly adept at spotting which common items or talents in one place will seem theatrical and bizarre in another. However, some things are genuinely enchanting, and hint at Roam magic.

The Roam have their own magical tradition, and while this is still a work in progress, there are branches to it that I feel belong quite well. I’m working on a hearth-magic, potion-and-trinket type thing, and everything helps the Roam survive their scattered existence. Enchantments are a big part of this – it’s one of the main ways that they keep local customers paying to see their shows. Sometimes appearing like a kind of mentalism, Roam are frighteningly accurate at knowing just what a customer is prepared to pay, or what will catch their interest and enrapture them the most.


That’s all for the moment. Give me some thoughts, and I’ll work on a more dry, nuts-and-bolts post. (Although I’m keeping away from a total definition at this stage. Takes the whole mystery out of the writing otherwise!)

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Re: Culture/Character background - [W.I.P.]

Post by Stella » Mon Sep 24, 2012 3:10 pm

I really like this idea. Having an established, slightly different "True Roam" race is interesting and something we tend to do occasionally here already. We have "true" kitsunes with completely magical properties and immortality, and we also have were-foxes who are also called kitsunes, many of whom were created because of interbreeding between true kitsunes and other races.

The hint of magic in the Roam is a good one. It makes them mysterious without making them seem over-the-top. I'll have Frug take a look at this soon to get his admin-y input.
(09:20:49) Kahmari: and can't even specificly put what their lore is from then complains when someone knows the lore of their char
(09:21:13) Stella: I too enjo specifcly lore chars.

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