Aquatic Nomadic Culture for RMX/RMC

Copyright Brent Knorr © 2008

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"For most Aquatic beings—even many of those that are truly amphibious— spending too much time out of the water is unnerving, if not fatal."

Introduction – This article makes use of material presented in Express Additions Issue #7 on creating Cultures for Rolemaster Express and Rolemaster Classic. It also makes use of some material from the Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying supplement Races & Cultures. It is primarily meant to be used with the Selkie Race I have also created but could easily be used for other Aquatic races such as Mermen and Aquatic Elves.

Home Region – Aquatic cultures are found in the oceans and large lakes, wherever underwater races can find enough room to spread out. Most Aquatic communities take hold on the continental shelf, relatively close to a major land mass. But some civilizations live on the seabed in the deep ocean. The nomadic Cultures will often range through all of these territories, trading with other communities that they encounter.

Political Structure – Aquatic Nomadic Cultures do not have a defined political structure but Elder members of the Culture are granted a great deal of respect and their opinions are highly valued.

Social Structure – The members of Aquatic Nomadic Cultures, such as Selkies, will normally travel alone or in small groups but there is usually a seasonal gathering where large numbers of them will gather and courting rituals and reunions with family and friends take place. If any disputes with smaller groups have occurred or there is news of importance to share then the Elders will be consulted and courses of action decided.

Military Structure – There is no clearly defined Military structure, there are members of the Culture that serve as scouts and patrols. If there is a threat to members of the culture then any able bodied individuals are expected to help in defence.

Currency – Barter is the primary form of trade but currency is not unknown, particularly when dealing with outsiders. The currency used underwater is usually in the form of gems but occasionally coins and other metal objects from the above water world will be used as well, particularly those resistant to corrosion.

Clothing & Decoration – Aquatic folk scarcely bother with clothes, as land-based beings know them. Most plant fibers, as well as all wool, furs and animal hides simply degrade too easily when constantly soaked in water (especially seawater). And besides, those garments become dead weight when saturated. Many Aquatic folk don't bother with clothes at all. When they do, they dress in simple garments woven from seaweed fibers. Sometimes they are nothing more than loincloths worn out of modesty. Jewelry is fairly rare although a particularly treasured necklace or bracelet may be worn by some individuals.

Housing – The Aquatic Nomadic Cultures don't have any permanent structures but instead make use of naturally occurring features such as caves or other defendable locations to rest in. Occasionally temporary structures made of seaweed fibers are constructed as camouflage and additional protection.

Attitudes – Aquatic folk are, as a general rule, suspicious of all land-based creatures and races. They feel more comfortable around other water-based races, and they feel this elemental bond even with their underwater enemies. This doesn't mean that Aquatic races never associate with or accept help from land-based beings, but it does reflect the fact that almost all Aquatic races have great difficulty functioning in land-based environments.

For most Aquatic beings — even many of those that are truly amphibious — spending too much time out of the water is unnerving, if not fatal. As sailors fear death by drowning, Aquatic folk fear death on land.

Worship – Aquatic Nomadic Cultures often worship Nature deities, usually a pantheon of major and minor deities rather than one particular deity.

Available Languages – Most members of the Aquatic Nomadic Culture will know their own language and perhaps a trade language of some sort as well. If they have close contact or regular trade with other Aquatic Races they may learn those languages as well. It is only rare individuals that would learn the language of a land-based race.

Available Weapons – Harpoon, polearm, spear, trident, handaxes, tomahawk, nets, occasionally light and heavy crossbow.

Cultural Skill Ranks
Skills Aquatic Nomadic
Combat Skills
Maneuver in Armor* 0
Weapon Skills** 3
General Skills
Climbing 0
Swimming 3
Riding*** 0
Stalk/Hide 2
Perception 2
Magical Skills
Runes 0
Staves & Wands 0
Special Skills
Ambush 0
Linguistics**** 6
Body Development 1
Secondary Skills
Crafting*** 2
Foraging 0
Gen. Lore: Local Region 2
Navigation 2
Streetwise 0
Tracking 0
Trickery 0

Notes: Any ranks that may be assigned according to player wishes are subject to their availability within the given culture.However, no more than 2 ranks may ever be placed in a single skill, except for Linguistics as noted below.
* = Ranks may be divided among relevant Armor skills.
** = Ranks may be divided among relevant Weapon Skills or Combat Styles (if used).
*** = Ranks may be divided among specializations of the skill.
**** = Ranks may be divided among any number of specific languages, either written or spoken