Cultures of Stone Age Kur

Copyright Peter Mork © 2015

Totem Tribes

Throughout the vast forests of the Wetwooods dwell the Totem Tribes. Each tribe can be found around the edges of the continent. Yet, for the most part, the tribes do not mingle. Each is a separate cultural entity with its own traditions and norms.

On the whole, the Totem Tribes craft similar tools and rely on similar technology. By the time the progenitor tribe split into the Totem Tribes, the people of the Wetwoods had already begun creating fairly elaborate maps, drawn on sheets of bark with charcoal. A similar fascination with symbolic knowledge allowed them to master basic runes, pressed into clay bricks; the first instance of Impulse (Essence) magic anywhere on Kur.

Marriage

Marriages are recognized only after the two individuals have demonstrated their ability to live together for a year. At any time during the year, the pairing can dissolve without shame. Of course, if children are involved, the two are strongly encouraged by the tribe to find that they are compatible (regardless of the truth).

Marriage outside the tribe is unthinkable. The tribes intermingle only when children from one tribe are claimed as trophies of war. Once the victims have been acculturated, they can marry another member of the tribe.

Religion

Each Totem Tribe believes itself to be the enlightened descendants of a given animal. Thus, they will not harm those animals (as they are their primitive forebearers) and will even protect those animals, within reason. Saving an otter from a trap is one thing; going to war because another tribe hunted some venison is quite another.

The tribes each believe that other humans are spiritless shells rejected by their totem (hence the prohibition on marriage—it would be little more than bestiality!). Children captured early enough (before their eyes choose a color) still have the potential to be blessed by the totem.

Fears & Biases

The Totem Tribes have a deep-seated hatred of each other that borders on fear. Each tribe believes that the others have embraced a decadent or foolish (at best) lifestyle. For example, the Beavers consider the Deer to be monsters and the Raccoons distrust the Otter's illusory displays.

Deep in the Wetwoods, near the center of the continent, where Kur touches the Twilight the Totem Tribes have had brief encounters with the Fey. These encounters are mutually frustrating, and the tribes have, over time, developed an outright fear of Fey beings. (For their part, the Fey fuel this fear through a variety of means.)

Skills

Members of a Totem Tribe have access to the following skills.

Skill Category Skill Note
Artistic • Active Acting
Artistic • Passive Drawing
Artistic • Passive Poetry
Artistic • Passive Sculpting
Athletic • Endurance Rowing
Athletic • Gymnastics Contortions
Athletic • Gymnastics Tightrope-walking
Combat Maneuvers Seaborne Combat
Crafts Earth-crafts
Crafts Food-crafts
Lore • Obscure Faerie Lore
Outdoor • Animal Animal Handling Specific skills include Aerial, Aquatic, Arthropods, Carnivorous, Dangerous Herbivores, Draft, Flying Monster, Hybrid Elemental, Land Monster, Passive Herbivores, Reptile/Amphibian, Unearthly, Water Monster (see Creatures & Monsters and Fire & Ice)
Power Awareness Read Runes
Power Manipulation Spell Mastery Specific skills for each spell list
Power Manipulation Targeting
Resistance Impulse Resistance
Spells • Impulse Open Lists Delving Ways
Spells • Impulse Open Lists Detecting Ways
Spells • Impulse Open Lists Elemental Shields
Spells • Impulse Open Lists Essence Hand
Spells • Impulse Open Lists Essence’s Perceptions
Spells • Impulse Open Lists Lesser Illusions
Spells • Impulse Open Lists Physical Enhancement
Spells • Impulse Open Lists Rune Mastery
Spells • Impulse Open Lists Spell Wall
Spells • Impulse Open Lists Unbarring Ways
Subterfuge • Mechanics Camouflage
Technical/Trade • General Mapping
Technical/Trade • General Boat Pilot

Specific Totem Cultures

Beaver Tribe

Lifestyle

The Beavers live to create. They are a nomadic people who travel light, but build elaborate temporary camp cities at each destination. Rarely do they inhabit one site for more than a few seasons. Then they pack up their most precious belongings, leaving behind huts, boats, and more. Thankfully, their detritus tends to dissolve into the forest within a generation.

Clothing

For the Beaver, a simple loincloth suffices. Their artistic expression consists of stylized clay statues and figurines (some larger than life). These figurines tend to depict human/beaver hybrids with some physical characteristic exaggerated (often the hands or genitals).

Deer Tribe

Lifestyle

The Deer are gatherers, constantly drifting from one location to the next. Each clan keeps a small pack of sled dogs that they use to transport their goods, safely packed away in pots. These pots serve multiple purposes. First, the pots allow the Deer to keep a huge variety of plant material. Thus, they inadvertently spread seeds throughout the Wetwoods, making these forests more homogeneous. Second, the pots are works of art, decorated with elaborate geometric designs.

Clothing

The Deer wear lengths of felt (made from dog hair) over one shoulder, bound about the waist with rope and pinned at the sides with bone. This fabric is stained with dyes harvested from fruits and roots obtained in their travels. Particularly valued are deep blue dyes that require the heating of shellfish found only on the north coast of the Wetwoods.

Otter Tribe

Lifestyle

The Otters are playful explorers who have investigated virtually every bit of the Wetwoods. For each landmark of importance, they spin some kernel of truth into a wild tale of whimsy. When sharing these tales with one another, they illustrate the story with fantastic illusions. The Otter were not the first tribe to construct coracles, but they were the first to be inspired (crazy) enough to take these vessels onto the open sea. The tales of distant lands are even more bizarre and terrifying than those that originate locally.

Clothing

Otters wear long skirts that they decorate with intricate stitching and beadwork. They continually seek to outdo each other with the quality and extent of their decorations; unfortunately their medium is quite ephemeral. During celebrations (when stories are shared), storytellers don elaborate feather headdresses. Anyone wearing such headgear is expected to be able to share a story, illustrated with illusions.

Raccoon Tribe

Lifestyle

Raccoons follow in the wake of the other nomadic tribes (such as the Deer, Otters, and Beavers). They repair and occupy abandoned homes. They collect and refurbish discarded tools. In many regards, they mimic whichever tribe they are following in terms of food and shelter. Paradoxically, Raccoon society is otherwise very rigid. There are rules governing when a person is to rise, how they should wash their hands, with whom they may speak, etc. Given these confines, a few Raccoons are banished from the tribe each year. Unless these individuals are young, they are unable to find new homes and become hermits, go mad, or commit suicide.

Clothing

Raccoons generally have little use for clothing. Instead, after establishing a good mud base, they decorate their bodies with paint. This decoration usually serves as camouflage, although garish colors are the norm during feasts and other celebrations.

Rat Tribe

Lifestyle

The Rats are least like the remaining Totem Tribes that drift from campsite to campsite. Beneath the Wetwoods is an extensive warren of caverns. Except near the surface, these caves are filled with poisonous gas. The Rats inhabit this narrow band. They foray out at dusk and dawn like crepuscular scavengers gathering food and fuel. As a rule, Rats are extremely practical and matter-of-fact.

Clothing

Like the Beaver, Rats only wear loincloths. Indeed, the Rats seem destined to become a footnote in history, but for their art. Rats decorate their caves with elaborate cave paintings; these extensive works will last for centuries depicting key aspects of daily life.

Starting Skills

Category or Skill Beaver Tribe Deer Tribe Otter Tribe Raccoon Tribe Rat Tribe
Athletic • Brawn 1 1 1 1 1
Athletic • Endurance 1 1 1 1 1
    Distance Running 1 1 1 1
    Rowing 1 1 1
    Scaling 1
    Swimming 1 1 1
Athletic • Gymnastics 1 1 1 1 2
    Climbing 1 1 1 1 2
Awareness • Perceptions 0 0 0 0 0
    Alertness 2 2 2 2 2
Awareness • Searching 1 1 1 1 1
    Observation 1 1 1 1 1
Body Development 0 0 0 0 0
    Concussion Hits 2 2 2 2 2
Communications: Wrin 1 1 1 1 1
    Beaver (S) 5
    Deer (S) 5
    Otter (S) 5
    Raccoon (S) 5
    Rat (S) 5
Crafts 0 0 0 0 0
    Earth-crafts 2 2 1 1 2
    Food-crafts 1 1 2 1 1
    Wood-crafts 2 1 1 2 1
Lore • General 3 3 3 3 3
    Culture Lore: Beaver Tribe 3
    Culture Lore: Deer Tribe 3
    Culture Lore: Otter Tribe 3
    Culture Lore: Raccoon Tribe 3
    Culture Lore: Rat Tribe 3
    Fauna Lore 1 1 1 1 1
    Flora Lore 1 1 1 1 1
    Region Lore: Own 3 3 5 3 3
Martial Arts • Striking 1 1 1 1
    Boxing 1 1 1 1
Martial Arts • Sweeps 1
    Wrestling 1
Outdoor • Animal 2
    Animal Handling: Carnivorous 2
Outdoor • Environmental 3 3 3 3 3
    Caving 1
    Fishing 2 1 1
    Foraging 1 2 1 1 2
    Survival: Deciduous Forest (D) 3 1
    Survival: Lake/River (L) 3 1
    Survival: Saltwater shore (S) 3 1
    Survival: Underground (U) 2
Resistance 0 0 0 0 0
    Disease Resistance 1 1 1 1 1
    Fear Resistance 1 1 1 1 1
    Impulse Resistance 1 1 1 1 1
    Poison Resistance 1 1 1 1 1
Subterfuge • Mechanics 1 1
    Camouflage 2
    Setting Traps 1 1
Subterfuge • Stealth 1 1 1 3 2
    Hiding 1 1 1 3 2
    Stalking 1 1 1 3 2
Technical/Trade • General 1 1 1 1 1
    Mapping 1
Weapon • Bow 2
    Blowgun 2
Weapon • Chains 1
    Net 1
Weapon • Crushing 1
    Sticks 1
Weapon • Pole Arms 2 1 1 1 1
    Quarterstaff 1
    Spear 2 1 1 1
Weapon • Thrown 1 1 1 2
    Direct Thrown 1 1 1
    Rotating Thrown 1
    Sling 2
Hobbies 2 2 2 2 2
Cost [2] 0 2 -1 8 4

[2] To determine a character’s background options, add up the racial cost (40 for Human, Wrin) and the culture cost (-1 to 8 for the Totem Tribes). Convert that total into talent points or background options using Talent Law. All of the Wrin/Totem combinations fall in the 26-75 point range, resulting in 55 talent points or 6 background options.