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[Fanmade Dark Era] [Beast/Geist] The Forest That Weeps

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  • #46
    About Geography section - would you add some natural animals stats that can be in Kongo to meet in violent way? Like gorilla, leopards or crocodiles? Most of supernaturals could have abilities to control animals and put them on their enemies.


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    • #47
      Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
      About Geography section - would you add some natural animals stats that can be in Kongo to meet in violent way? Like gorilla, leopards or crocodiles? Most of supernaturals could have abilities to control animals and put them on their enemies.
      Mmm, might write some of those at the very end of everything, in the stats section


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      Currently writing: "Dark Era: The Forest That Weeps". When not busy writing homebrew, I also try to write CoD fiction. (All paused until August)

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      • #48
        well, last night I've had a series of dreams about King Leopold and your Dark Era as whole, so I believe it is a sign you are doing a great job, Cinder!


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        • #49
          Originally posted by LostLight View Post
          well, last night I've had a series of dreams about King Leopold and your Dark Era as whole, so I believe it is a sign you are doing a great job, Cinder!
          Thanks, it's not easy to get whether I'm doing this well or not, but the fact there are people like you that tell me this sort of stuff means a lot


          Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub
          Currently writing: "Dark Era: The Forest That Weeps". When not busy writing homebrew, I also try to write CoD fiction. (All paused until August)

          Waiting feverishly as instructed

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          • #50
            Big post about the people of Congo, with a much needed focus about the natives. At this point, I'll ask again: do you think I wrote enough about life in Congo or do you believe a chapter about daily life and realities could still be useful?
            • Population
            There are several different factions in Congo. Dozens of different trading companies, hundreds of native tribes, missionaries of all sorts of religious confessions. Each trading post is a little world of its own. Still, it is possible to paint the picture in broad strokes.


            The Colonial Powers

            The core of the colonial machine is populated by all sorts of people. Belgians, English and French are the most numerous, but men from all over Europe and the USA are there as well. These people are diplomats, accountants and men of letters. They’re the one with the responsibility to check that everything in the country runs as planned. Shipments, payments and all the bureaucracy lies in their hands. At the head of the pyramid there’s the Governor, which lives in Boma, and answers directly to King Leopold.

            Even the private trading company have to deal with the official government of the Congo Free State, as all the permits and authorization must pass through it first. The local government is in direct contact with Brussels and holds a power over the land no one directly contests. The administration is fundamental for the well-being of the country and it is not a good idea to become an enemy of it.

            Many Africans, several of them slaves freed or bought from the Arab slavers, work for the white men that run Congo. Most of them are porters, some instead work as boy in the house of their masters. It is through this work that many Congolese enter in contact with the European culture and are able to witness the wonders of its advanced technology. Some even travel to Europe.

            The attitude towards the servants vary from man to man and is certainly related to the attitude of the era towards lower classes but, generally speaking, the Westerners, whether they mistreat the Africans or not, tend to see the Congolese as something not much different from ignorant children at best. Something you might come to care about, but still biologically and culturally inferior.


            The “Force Publique”

            The Force Publique is the armed side of the colonial enterprise in Congo. Its higher and middle ranks are made up of white people, again from all over Europe, but its lowers ranks are populated by African and Congolese people. For the whites, joining the Force Publique was something made because of the pay the job offered, but also because it catered to the hunger for adventure and glory many of them had.
            When the amounts of soldiers provided by voluntary recruitment proved to be too low, the government introduced a system of mandatory conscription. Each village had to offer a number of man to the Force Publique according to its size. For many chiefs, this was the occasion to deal with criminals and troublemakers, sending them away.

            The resulting army was an undisciplined mess, composed of people who could barely communicate with each other and had few tolerance for the authority. The officers of the Force Publique cared very little for the life of those below them. Abuses and harsh punishments were the norm, not to mention the death rate of those who joined the army was just insanely high.

            Desertions and rebellions became an ordinary thing, with many units revolting against the officers. The Force Publique was responsible for some of the worst atrocities in Congo: men with weapons and authority given free reign to vent their frustrations of the people around the. Whether we’re talking about organized massacres ordered from above of mundane, petty and horrifying violence from a man to another, the Force Publique proved to linked to many of those. It is from the Force Publique that the darkest names of the Congo Free State come from: dozens of monsters, each one a fitting inspiration for Heart of Darkness’ Kurze.


            Merchants and Trading Companies

            Since the Congo Free State remained for all its existence a commercial colony focused on trade, it is natural to find many traders living in it. Merchants can be independent, selling few goods through the country and providing the other people of Congo whatever they wanted but, most of the time, the economic aspect of the Congo Free State is handled by the trading companies.

            These private companies are financed by European and American holdings and control the largest part of what is exported from Congo. They have the right to hire their own man and even their own armed forces in order to tutelate their interests. Each company must invest huge amounts of money before seeing any revenues and, since looking for fortune in Congo is extremely dangerous, each company tries its best to limitate the risks. Since there are things a company don’t have power over, like the weather or the diseases, they exercise a severe control on the production and their workers.

            Those who gain the trust of a trading company can become rich very fast, often obtaining the right to command a steamboat over the river. Steamboat commanders are entrusted with precious tools from the company and have to keep an eye on everything. If they demonstrate to be capable, they can eventually gain their own trading post.

            The lower ranks of the trading company are made of ordinary people. Sailors, carpenters and machinists, each of them trying his fortune in the Congo Free State. They often gather all that they gain so they can send it back home, where their families wait. Either old men with years of experience on their back or young men captured by the promise of wealth and adventure the country offers, they all live by the day, doing their best to carry forward.

            The trading companies often hire African people as well. They are taught the barest they need to know in order to do their job and paid very little, but many whites and black come to know each other while working for the same companies and sharing ills and fortunes.


            Missionaries

            The first missionaries arrived to Congo even before the trading companies. Most of them are christian, either Catholics or Protestants, but non-religious missionaries do exists. On many occasions, they’re the one that first come in contact with the native populations.

            Fundamentalists and racist missionaries do exist, but most of those who come to Congo sincerely do so with the purpose of helping the locals. That is, according to their perspective, taking them out of the jungle, teaching them how to read and write and making them abandon their previous lifestyle to embrace those of the Westerners. While also making them convert, of course. It’s questionable, but they do mean well: in their eyes the wonders of the Western civilization and technology can only do good and to convert an African means to save his soul. One can argue that many of those helped by missionaries come to live a better life indeed. As mentioned before, it’s from the missionaries that most of the denounces against Leopold’s regime come.

            On the other hand, missionaries tend to despise local customs and religion, seeing the as barbaric at best and as downright satanic at worst. Many missionaries simply destroy all the signs of Congolese culture they find. Children who, according to African customs, should be left in care of their relatives at the death or disappearance of their parents, are labeled as “orphans” and basically kidnapped and brought to the missions.

            The same Congolese youngs that grow up in the missions will be the ones that will return to their tribes as grown ups. Children of both cultures, these people often have a complicated relationship with their past but will they will act as contact point between Europe and Africa. Even if they disapprove the behavior of their brethren and see their culture of origin as primitive, few truly forget their roots.


            The Native Population

            The people that give life to the countless tribes, kingdoms and cultures of Congo come from several different etnies. Most of them can be classified as Bantu, an immense ethnic group which spans all over Africa and whose members are share a common linguistic root. The Proto-Bantu originally came from Western Africa but scattered all over the continent in a series of slow and gradual migrations that started around 1000 B.C.. As the migrants settled, each group developed its own language and customs. While their shared background is noticeable and the common points can be identified with relative ease, the various Bantu populations are indeed different cultures. To say there’s no difference between them would be as wrong as saying there’s no difference between all the cultures that belong to to the Indo-European language family. That said, the populations mingle and communicate with each other through the years, meaning the distinctions tend to be malleable and mutable.

            Most of the inhabitants of Congo come from the Luba, Bakongo and Mongo ethnic group, but other ethnic groups do exist. All of them are widely distributed over the country. The biggest populations often managed to found proper kingdoms of great size through history while the others settled in smaller, isolated villages.

            The society is organized around the chief of the community. His title can be hereditary but, much more frequently, he’s nominated by a council. The members of this council include the elders and the most notable citizens. Chiefs ultimately have the last word over matters but it’s to go against the will of the council as a whole is considered disrespectful: the council members are people with experience, if not always elders, and that means they earned the right to be listened.

            The familiar unit is not limited to parents and sons but extends to grandparents, uncles and even close friends of the family. Raising children is a communitary effort and the young are supposed to listen and be respectful to all people older than them, especially the elders. Poligamy is common, another custom the European will look at with disapproval.

            Slavery is a common practice in Congo, but it works differently than in the Western world. People can become slaves for limited period of times, whether years or generations, but once this ends there’s no fixed stigma against them (at least in theory). Even when still a slave, a man or a woman can marry even a non-slave, thus ending the slavery by association, and also gain position of authority within the tribe.

            The people of Congo are self-sufficient. They cultivate their own crops and raise cattle, but the weather and small spaces of the jungle means that they have to move frequently. Few tribes are truly nomadic. but villages do tend to change position every few years. The Congolese technologic level is obviously not on par with that of the Europeans, but they have well-developed notions of agriculture, wood carving, metallurgy and astronomy. Art and jewelry are particularly prominent, with finely carved statues and ivory ornaments.

            Religion is focused on the cult of the ancestors. An ancestor spirit exist as long as people remember him, and his descendants have the duty to honor and celebrate his past life and his new role of protector of the tribe. If the ancestors are properly treated, they will guard over the living and protect the animals and cultivations as well. An angry ancestor might cause disease and ruin and, according to locals custom, has all the rights to do so if offended. Like in many other cultures around the world, the living communicate with the dead with a medium of some sort acting as bridge between this world and the netherworld, but the African religions tend to feature a distinctly personal perspective on this. Sure, the witch-doctor might be the one that has the knowledge about the spirits and their world, but your ancestors are still your ancestors and, as such, there’s a deep bond between you and them.

            The dead are not the only beings of importance. Animal and nature spirits have a role and are important as well, merely not as much. Almost all Bantu religions also feature a Creator God of some sort, but it is removed and distant, more related to the beasts than to men. Again, not as important as the ancestors.

            African religious practices is made of tangible elements. Items have power, whether they are ritually prepared animal parts of fetishes of some sort. Spirits can be bound into charms and statues, granting power to their owner. Magic practitioners in Africa own dozens of these fetishes and often have an altar in their house. The idea that some places away from the villages have power and that men should keep away from them is prevalent.

            No matter to what the the white inhabitants of Congo might believe, the Africans are humans like everybody else. Which means they have a history, that they have conflicts and that they have customs. There’s a not a single “Congo people”: there are hundreds of populations that have relationships and grudges with each other. Wars, based on cultural differences, desire for territory and wealth or even mere rivalries happen, and frequently so. People speak many different languages, sometimes similar enough to communicate, but not always. The only universal language is that of the drums tribes use to speak with each other through the jungle.

            Congo is a part of the world inhabited by people that behave like people, with all the positive and negative sides that can mean.


            ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            The Pygmies


            “The men brought back a dwarf from the Land of the Spirits”. This sentence, written by an Egyptian Pharaoh several centuries before the birth of Christ, is the most ancient written reference we have about Congo and it is talking about a Pygmy.

            Pygmies are the oldest ethnic group of Congo. They live there from before the Bantu Migration. inhabiting the depths of the jungle. Pygmies are famous for their short stature, an hereditary biological trait scientist believe to be the evolutionary response to life inside the jungle.

            Pygmies are hunter-gatherers that live in small nomadic tribes. They are extremely knowledgeable about plants, poisons and the secrets of the jungle. Their religion is based on the veneration of the spirits of the forests they inhabit, like the spirits of trees and animals, whereas the spirits of the dead are not that important.

            Pygmies tend to have a pacific and curious attitude towards outsiders, but will defend themselves if needed. Sadly, other people, either European or African, often consider Pygmies as a lower race. They are often mistreated, enslaved, forced away from their lands or killed. The name “Pygmy” itself is a denigratory name: the Congo Pygmies call themselves Bambenga.

            In the Congo Free State Pygmies life as a minority of an already suffering part of the population.


            Pygmy characters require no special rules but they all get the “Small-Framed” Merit for free.

            -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Last edited by Cinder; 02-21-2017, 02:22 PM.


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            Currently writing: "Dark Era: The Forest That Weeps". When not busy writing homebrew, I also try to write CoD fiction. (All paused until August)

            Waiting feverishly as instructed

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            • #51
              When I read about missionaries...

              Originally posted by Cinder View Post
              Fundamentalists and racist missionaries do exist, but most of those who come to Congo sincerely do so with the purpose of helping the locals. That is, according to their perspective, taking them out of the jungle, teaching them how to read and write and making them abandon their previous lifestyle to embrace those of the Westerners. While also making them convert, of course. It’s questionable, but they do mean well: in their eyes the wonders of the Western civilization and technology can only do good and to convert an African means to save his soul. One can argue that many of those helped by missionaries come to live a better life indeed. As mentioned before, it’s from the missionaries that most of the denounces against Leopold’s regime come.
              I just can't stop to think that's exactly how Silver Ladder mages would look on the all Nameless around them - and this 'missionary complex' would be one of great reasons why Nameless reformed in to Free Council in the first place.

              But at least Silver Ladder would not be so 'barbaric' as Sleepers on local magic, trying rather to point common points with 'Atlantean heritage' and looking for more clues of it than destroying every local Artifact or Rote. It's contrasted with Sleepers reactions to this culture shock...

              Originally posted by Cinder View Post
              On the other hand, missionaries tend to despise local customs and religion, seeing the as barbaric at best and as downright satanic at worst. Many missionaries simply destroy all the signs of Congolese culture they find. Children who, according to African customs, should be left in care of their relatives at the death or disappearance of their parents, are labeled as “orphans” and basically kidnapped and brought to the missions.
              But here we come back to idea how old Silver Ladder would be in region - if Portuges where in neighbor Mutapa almost 4 century earlier, some Diamond converted native mages would be in great trade posts of various Kongo kingdoms, even before proper Western colonization.
              Last edited by wyrdhamster; 02-20-2017, 05:00 PM.


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              • #52
                Short advice on creating Pygmy character would be nice touch in the sidebar. Like pointing them to have all Small-Framed Merit for 'free'?


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                • #53
                  Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                  Short advice on creating Pygmy character would be nice touch in the sidebar. Like pointing them to have all Small-Framed Merit for 'free'?
                  Deal. I gave that for granted, but I have to remember I'm writing this for everyone.

                  As for Mage, that's stuff for the crossover section. I have plans for that but plenty of time to think about it (and it will be a sidebar, if a detailed one, so I don't have to worry too much about it)


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                  • #54
                    Screw it, done it anyways. More is better than less, usually, so let's go with it.
                    • Life in Congo
                    The European settlers that established a colony in Congo did so in an effectively hostile environment. While the natives had developed their way of life in a way that allowed them to survive, something that required centurie, the realities of Western civilization clash violently with the environment.

                    The weather, the land, the animals and the diseases all have a heavy impact on the life of Congo’s inhabitants.

                    The visitors soon discover to dangerously vulnerable to the diseases in particular. Fevers and dysentery are especially virulent, but so is malaria. A combination of factors, ranging from low immunitary defenses against local illnesses to ignorance on how to treat them (it won’t be until 1898 that people will discover that mosquito are the vectors of the malaria, for example), means they spread with ease. The Sleeping Sickness, a real plague for the Congo Free State, is, to be blunt, something people have no idea how to stop and the best one can do is to pray not to get it.

                    Congo is also the home of many dangerous animals. Ranging from the venomous to the aggressive ones, they are another frequent cause of death. Sometimes, predators that feed on human corpses seem to gain a taste for the flesh of man and turn more aggressive.

                    Travel in Congo mostly happens in two way: by river or, more rarely and only on shorter distances, by foot. There’s no way to communicate on great distances. The telegraph and the few telephones can only reach the areas around the bigger cities or certain trading posts but have no way to get in the heart of the jungle. Thus, people can only communicate by mail, which must be delivered by river. Distant trading posts are really distant worlds, for all that their inhabitants are concerned. News and warnings can take entire weeks before they reach the ears of these distant settlements.

                    Sometimes, one can get an idea of what is happening by listening to the whispers of the men that venture on the river. The steamboats often malfunctions or break down and one can have to wait for weeks for the pieces needed to repair them. Other types of boats are used as well, but they are slow and can't be used for long travels.

                    The alternative is travelling on foot, perhaps joining one of the convoys that pass through the jungle. It's a method used mostly by the military forces or the little traders, whether white or black, that sell their good to whoever they meet on the road. To venture into the darkness of the jungle means having to face all sorts of dangers and complications but sometimes it is the only choice.



                    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    To be a Woman in Belgian Congo


                    Generally speaking, white women don’t travel to Congo. To the eyes of the Western World, it’s a dangerous place, away from civilization, filled with diseases and inhabited by savages. It is also a place of work, where men do their job in order to earn their pay and can’t afford to be distracted by the opposite sex. Women don’t belong there. Notable exceptions do exist, especially among the protestant missionaries, but are still rare. The few women that sail to Congo on their own terms are those who can afford it, aristocrats or members of rich families. They are strongly discouraged from going further than Boma and those who do are looked at with a mixture of suspicion, wonder and contempt.

                    African women, on their part, have no choice on the matter. Being a woman in the Congo Free State can be difficult. In times of upheaval like this, women often find themselves vulnerable.

                    The Westerners that come to Congo frequently take local women as concubines. Some women do so willingly, but others have no choice. Sexual abuse and rape are common and there’s not much that can be done to avoid it without risking repercussion. Violence for the sake of violence is also frequent: many sadists beat women to a pulp just because they can, with the added benefit of stealing their jewels after they’re done.

                    Women soon learn to be extremely careful and to go unnoticed if they want to avoid the dangers. Some flee further and further inside the jungle, carrying children and elder with them. It’s a temporary solution than only works until the colonial forces inevitably come, but it’s better than the alternative. Other women go looking for help in the in the religious missions, which are probably the safest haven they can find, even if that would mean to abandon their villages and relatives. When people try to fight back, women don't stand idle: many do their best in order to oppose the regime. As men die or are forced to work, many women have collaborate to protect themselves and the others. Some manage to find the chance to get revenge for the crimes of the regime.

                    The life of the African women is, if possible, even more difficult than that of the men.
                    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    Last edited by Cinder; 02-21-2017, 02:17 PM.


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                    Currently writing: "Dark Era: The Forest That Weeps". When not busy writing homebrew, I also try to write CoD fiction. (All paused until August)

                    Waiting feverishly as instructed

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                    • #55
                      On another note, the "mundane" part is done, ladies & gentlemen. Now it's time for the supernaturals. I'm taking a few days to gather all my notes and organize the work, before I start writing again.

                      If you have suggestions, criticism, ideas, curiosities or want to discuss some things, now is the time. As always, contributions are welcome. I know sometimes it does not seem like I think so, but that's me being me: I enter "writing mode" and do my best to remain focused. I'm silly that way, but I appreciate all sort of comments.


                      Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub
                      Currently writing: "Dark Era: The Forest That Weeps". When not busy writing homebrew, I also try to write CoD fiction. (All paused until August)

                      Waiting feverishly as instructed

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                      • #56
                        As an aside, for the crossover "sidebar", in CN: DC, they introduced a new Cult benefit for the Arisen, that is about misleading your followers to use against other cults. It is explicitly called out as happening in the Belgian Congo.


                        Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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                        • #57
                          As to Women in Congo sidebar - good that you point that women cannot do certain things in Era setting. BUT better would also to point how women character could work in this setting. Generally, Western women do not go to Congo - great, but on what terms they can go beyond being pastors wife? Maybe as nurses or journalists? Native women will be treated as items and can only run - great, so we can have some few fighting ones in whole Free Kongo that could be PCs? Stuff like that, pointing to female character concepts that could work in this Era.


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                          • #58
                            Originally posted by FallenEco View Post
                            As an aside, for the crossover "sidebar", in CN: DC, they introduced a new Cult benefit for the Arisen, that is about misleading your followers to use against other cults. It is explicitly called out as happening in the Belgian Congo.
                            Oh, I completely forgot about that one. Slipped under my radar, thanks for pointing that out.


                            Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                            As to Women in Congo sidebar - good that you point that women cannot do certain things in Era setting. BUT better would also to point how women character could work in this setting. Generally, Western women do not go to Congo - great, but on what terms they can go beyond being pastors wife? Maybe as nurses or journalists? Native women will be treated as items and can only run - great, so we can have some few fighting ones in whole Free Kongo that could be PCs? Stuff like that, pointing to female character concepts that could work in this Era.
                            No nurses nor journalists. It's the 19th century, journalist women that would be allowed to go to Congo are a distant thing. I mean, go for it if you want, it's a good idea and I'd allow it at my table, but technically that's an anachronism. But I never said there are only pastors wives, i said missionaries, and that's what it is. Still, I'll change the paragraph a little, thanks for the suggestion

                            For the natives, i thought that women that resist were implicit by not only what I wrote there but also in other places, but if you think that needs to be underlined better, I'll do that. In any case, there will be several female characters as sample NPCs, so that might be helpful
                            Last edited by Cinder; 02-21-2017, 05:28 AM.


                            Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub
                            Currently writing: "Dark Era: The Forest That Weeps". When not busy writing homebrew, I also try to write CoD fiction. (All paused until August)

                            Waiting feverishly as instructed

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                            • #59
                              Just a single bump for the sake of it.

                              Now that the "normal" part is done, I'd like to know what you think of it as a whole, if you have comments or suggestions both for what I've already done and the Beast and Geist section that will follow.



                              Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub
                              Currently writing: "Dark Era: The Forest That Weeps". When not busy writing homebrew, I also try to write CoD fiction. (All paused until August)

                              Waiting feverishly as instructed

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                              • #60
                                Wow...well done!

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