Sunday, November 14, 2010

Down South

art by Glenn Orbik

“...snake-charmers, phoney real-estate operators, and syphilitic evangelists.”
-H.L. Mencken
The region between the hegemony of the City, the Smaragdine Mountains, and the eastern coast of the New World is known generally as the South. Popular conception holds a dim view of the South, and its people are painted with various unflattering stereotypes. The poor are viewed as over-religious, unwashed dullards, and its would-be gentry as grandiose eccentrics living in the past.

It is true that the South has been slower to embrace the industrialization and engagement in the wider world that mark its neighbors like the City and the Steel League, and its folk are often hidebound and insular. These traits aside, there are many things which might draw adventurers here.

There is one industry the South excels at—bootlegging. Though the South’s tradition of fire and brimstone Old-Time Religion ensures that most counties are “dry”--and even more liberal localities prohibit alcohol sales on Godday--this hasn’t stopped the manufacture and smuggling of alcohol. The lowland moonshiner typically sticks to alcohol; he’s is less likely than his Smaragdine brethren to also be involved in bootleg alchemicals in general (though it may only be a matter of time). Southron bootleggers are famous for their skill behind the wheel of their suped-up automobiles (sometimes even magically enhanced) used to outrun authorities on rural highways and back-roads. Both sides of the moon-shining equation offer opportunities for people of action.

In addition to the highways, the lesser travelled waterways of the South are conduits for bootleggers, smugglers, and criminals on the lamb. Bayous and swamps can hide a multitude of sins, if one can deal with the hostile locals (including conjure-men or hoodoo doctors), skunk-apes, gator-men, and dangerous animal life. Outsiders should be cautious before choosing to follow a local fugitive into the interior. The largest of these swamps are the closest thing the Northern continent has to the Grand Cinnamon River basin in Asciana.

There is also perhaps a little money to be made, and a lot of justice do be done, in defending Black or Native communities from terrorizing by the Knights-Templar of Purity. This can be a dangerous proposition as Black-Folk are legally disenfranchised in much of the South, and the Knights-Templar wield more power here, so near there place of origin, than in most other places. Some whole towns are under their sway, so that knowing who is an enemy and who is not can be difficult to discern.

If adventuring, or perhaps just do-gooding, wears thin one can always visit one of the cities the South does have to offer. The old and decadent canal-city of New Ylourgne, largest city in the South, offers a respite from the rural. It also boasts a higher concentration of magical practitioners than even the City, and magic shops well-stocked with exotic material components.


LoneIslander said...

Sounds like where I live now lol

Trey said...

Any resemblance to your own place of residence is purely coincidental. ;)

Brutorz Bill said...

Hey some of that is hitting waay too close to home! : )

Unknown said...

Conjure-men, hoodoo doctors, skunk-apes, and gator-men.


And yah, strikes a *little* close to home, though not too much. I live on the edge of the region to which this strikes an uncanny resemblance.

Trey said...

Guys, as a life-long Southern (a few years in Colorado aside), I can safely say that I recommend a nuanced view of the region in question even in a historical eras.

Now, geographical dopplegangers in pulp-magical worlds-next-door, can be as one-note as a GM desires. ;)

Harald said...

Good work, this. And judging from the comments, you managed to give this purely fictional pulp-magical world-next-door at least a little plausibility ;)

Unknown said...

@Trey: Apologies if I implied offense. I'm a Northern transplant to the Old Dominion, but my family roots are deep in the region. And while there are aspects of the region's politics that drive me bonkers, it pains me to think of moving away. I absolutely adore Virginia and have fond memories of my limited time in the Carolinas and Georgia.

So yeah, I can do nuance. :)

Trey said...

@Harald - Unfortunately, there's absolutely no truth whatsoever to the magical cars part.

@Risus - Absolutely no offense taken, rather I was just trying to clarify that I meant none either... Not that I don't have some less than complimentary thoughts about my birth state of Georgia and my current place of residence. I just wasn't really voicing them here. ;)