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Author Topic: The Mountain People: an Uncertain Future  (Read 10913 times)
lumpley
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« on: July 26, 2004, 06:59:11 AM »

This week on the Discovery Channel.

No, I'm lying.  The Mountain People's future is clear.  They get to stop being the demonic enemies of the Faith and start being just regular ol' sinners and idolaters.  Here's the text about them, from now on:

Quote from: DitV
The Mountain People
The land here wasn't uninhabited when the Faith arrived, not precisely, but its natives are nomads and at the time they were elsewhere.  While the pioneers were establishing themselves at Bridal Falls and the lush valleys around it, various accidents of history, the travels of the elk herds, agreements between family groups, and perhaps the will of the King of Life all kept the natives away.  By the time their paths brought them back, Bridal Falls City and a dozen other towns already stood.

As the Faithful have expanded, it's been easy for them to push the natives - the Mountain People - out in front of them.  The Faithful have guns, work animals, organization, and everywhere they go they make roads and walls.  The Mountain People, on the other hand, are accustomed to packing up everything they own and moving on.

Now the Mountain People live only at the edges of the Faith's territory, in the scrub, the desert, and higher in the mountains.

According to the doctrines of the Faith, the Mountain People are sinners not especially unlike any other; the Mountain People don't have any unified attitude toward the Faith at all.  Consequently each frontier town has to negotiate relations with nearby Mountain People as best it can.  Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's not.  In some places it's violent and folklore springs up: the Mountain People are especially vulnerable to demonic influences, easily possessed and naturally sorcerous, and they serve the demons by raiding and murdering the Faithful.  Is there truth to it?  In other places the Mountain People are more likely to trade, or even beg, than to raid.

Sometimes Mountain People convert to the Faith.  Sometimes orphans of the Mountain People are adopted by a Faithful family and raised righteously.  Sometimes they're even Dogs!


You may "I told you so" at will.

-Vincent
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2004, 10:17:23 AM »

So if I want to play a convert who's become a Dog, what do I do?  Just make stuff up?  Are there communities of converts and sympathizers (Mountain People who might attend prayer meetings occasionally, but haven't yet converted to the faith) on the edges of larger towns?  Are the converts fully integrated into the Faithful's society?  How do most of the Faithful treat converts?  Wecolming?  With suspicion?  Are there problems with some converts reverting to their old practices, maybe even leading some of the Faithful astray and causing problems?  Also, the phrase on the "orphans" of the Mountain People is interesting.  How do you get orphans?  By the Faithful slaughtering Mountain People, men and women, leaving the children orphans.  Or are you thinking of some other way of getting orphans?
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lumpley
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2004, 10:25:45 AM »

Yes!  Any of those things would make a very good start for your character and/or very good dynamics to include in town creation.

I mean, what you do is: give your character some Traits, some Relationships, some belongings, and say what you hope he or she accomplished during initiation.  You shouldn't start play with much more than that anyway.

-Vincent
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Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2004, 11:27:59 AM »

Nice, Vincent. This sets much easier in my craw. I think some of the text on the Mountain People created the most visceral negative reaction in me, more than anything else you had written in the game.
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2004, 03:32:46 PM »

Thanks for not perpetuating the ugly Mormon rascism surrounding Indians.  I can use Mountain People in my games now.  (I was planning on just... not using them.  Hand-wavy-go-away.)

yrs--
--Ben
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2004, 03:38:35 PM »

See, I don't like using hand-waving to make difficult issues go away.  Can't we just address some of that stuff instead of ditching it entirely?  I mean, one of the more unique aspects of Mormonism is it's views of Native Americans (which weren't especially unique at the time of the movement's development, but they're the only significant group to have preserved the belief that Native Americans descend from the Lost Tribes of Israel).  Can't you just mention that the Book of Life claims that the Faithful and Mountain People are "of the same flesh" or "both created by the King of Life for his glory" or something?
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lumpley
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« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2004, 11:59:41 AM »

That's a good idea.  

Hmm.

-Vincent
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xiombarg
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« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2004, 12:39:50 PM »

Gotta agree with Jon, here. Also, was I the only person that liked the original, demonic Mountain People? I mean, I saw them in a very fantasy game vein, in that while they were a placeholder for Indians, I visualized them as scary, white-skinned barbarians in a sort of sword-and-sorcery vein, and therefore not racist for that reason -- that they were Indians only insomuch as the people on old B&W Westerns were Indians, only even less so, to avoid being offensive.
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
lumpley
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« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2004, 01:26:16 PM »

Yeah.

I liked them too, but they were a stumbling block I just didn't need to put in people's way.

-Vincent
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xiombarg
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« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2004, 03:51:31 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
I liked them too, but they were a stumbling block I just didn't need to put in people's way.

Hmmmm. Perhaps a footnote about the old way of handling them, hidden in the back?
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love * Eris * RPGs  * Anime * Magick * Carroll * techno * hats * cats * Dada
Kirt "Loki" Dankmyer -- Dance, damn you, dance! -- UNSUNG IS OUT
Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2004, 03:58:25 PM »

Hmm.  Interestingly, I don't think I had any real objections to the original portrayal of the Mountain People.  But, reading them, I was wary of the way they could be misread by others, both insensitive people who liked the idea of demon-worshiping pseudo-Indians AND oversensitive people who thought Vincent/Dogs was promoting the idea of demon-worshiping pseudo-Indians.  

I think Vincent's descriptions were very intentional and showed that he knew what he was doing, which made me trust him.  But, then again, I would be wary of playing Dogs with people that wouldn't be as intentional about what the game might be saying.  It would be harder to object or change a certain portrayal once the game started.
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lumpley
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« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2004, 05:51:23 AM »

If I were to publish the game with the Mountain People as they were, that would be the only conversation I'd get to have.  So my experience with showing people my various manuscripts leads me to believe.

I long ago decided not to take too seriously anybody's concerns about what other people might think, like "I get it, but I don't think Joe Gamer will," so it's not that.  It's just that the game isn't even published yet and I'm tired of having that conversation.  Since the Mountain People aren't the point, changing them is painless.

New text, by the way:
Quote from: the setting chapter
The land here wasn't uninhabited when the Faith arrived, not precisely, but its natives are nomads and at the time they were elsewhere.  While the pioneers were establishing themselves at Bridal Falls and the lush valleys around it, various accidents of history, the travels of the elk herds, agreements between family groups, and perhaps the will of the King of Life all kept the natives away.  By the time their paths brought them back, Bridal Falls City and a dozen other towns already stood.

As the Faithful have expanded, it's been easy for them to push the natives - the Mountain People - out in front of them.  The Faithful have guns, work animals, organization, and everywhere they go they make roads and walls.  The Mountain People, on the other hand, are accustomed to packing up what they own and moving on.

Now the Mountain People live only at the edges of the Faith's territory, in the scrub, the desert, and higher in the mountains.

The Mountain People don't have any social or political unity.  Each family group is autonomous, forming alliances and agreements with other families at need or convenience.  Consequently the towns at the edges of the Faith have to negotiate ongoing relations with nearby Mountain People as best they can.  Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's not.  In some places it's violent; in other places the Mountain People are more likely to trade, or even beg, than to raid.

According to the doctrines of the Faith, the Mountain People are a fallen remnant of an ancient Faithful civilization.  Out of respect for the antiquity of their covenant, the Faithful don't fight with them or murder them without cause, and whenever a man or woman of the Mountain People repents and comes to the Faith, it's joy and celebration.  Beyond this, the Faith's position is that the Mountain People today are sinners and idolaters no different from any other.

But folklore inevitably springs up.  According to some, the Mountain People are uniquely beloved of the King of Life and destined for a glorious renaissance, despite their present wickedness and idolatry.  A few Faithful even say that the Mountain People possess secret true doctrines!  These hold that one of the most important duties of the Faith is to restore the Mountain People to their rightful place in the Book of Life.

Others say instead that their fall from righteousness makes them especially vulnerable to demonic influences, easily possessed and naturally sorcerous, and that they serve the demons by raiding and murdering the Faithful.  Extreme versions even make them out to be wholly unredeemable.  They're dedicated absolutely to the downfall of the Faith, just as the demons are absolute in their rage against the King of Life.

You can guess which stories arise in towns where relations with the Mountain people are hard, and which in towns were relations are easy.

Regardless, sometimes individual Mountain People do convert to the Faith.  Sometimes orphans of the Mountain People are adopted by a Faithful family and raised righteously.  Sometimes they even serve as Dogs!

And:
Quote from: character creation
And here's how your life might be different if you're a convert to the Faith.

Most converts come from Back East; practically everyone born out here in the mountains is raised Faithful.  Being from Back East means that you've left friends and family behind and made the trek westward to join the body of the Faith.  One person in ten dies on that trek.

How old were you when you converted to the Faith?  The oldest Dogs in the field are men and women who converted as adults.

Or it might be that you're a Mountain Person.  If you've been raised in the Faith, by convert parents or by an adoptive Faithful family, your life is only a little different from your fellow Dogs'.  The Mountain People don't look like the Faithful: they're leaner built, they have different eyes, different faces, different hair, so you never quite fit in.  You've been subject to prejudice, both the outrightly hostile kind - you're naturally wicked, superstitious, lazy, dirty, mean - and a subtler kind.  Some see you as uniquely noble, admiring the antiquity of your Faithful heritage, holding you to a high standard and expecting you to be at once insightful, powerful and humble, with little compassion for you if you fail.  If you've been adopted by Faithful parents, it's very likely that they see you this way themselves.

If you've converted more recently, you have to deal with not only those twin prejudices, but also an upbringing in a culture at odds with your new one.  You used to take comfort from and find meaning in your people's worship - your ancestors looked after you, the spirits led and provided for you.  How do you now understand your native religion?  It might even be that the little thoughtless habits of your childhood, themselves innocent, bring evil to your mind and to the minds of the people around you.  What balance can you find - if any at all - between serving the King of Life and remembering your own kind?

-Vincent
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2004, 05:17:40 AM »

Since nobody's commented on this new version yet, I just wanted to point out that it rocks.  Does everything that you need it to do: raises questions about the Mountain People and how you might treat them, but doesn't answer them in a real specific and detailed way.  Deftly handled.
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lumpley
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« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2004, 10:04:49 AM »

Good!

-Vincent
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2004, 12:27:29 PM »

Put me down in the "also rocks" category.

The mountain people now are just that, people.  Not good people.  Not bad people.  Just... other people.  That are going to die so that you can live here.

And that, to steal from the book, makes rare bloody story meat.

yrs--
--Ben
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