For over six millennia, the dark Bandot tribe had existed in peace, both with itself and the world around it. Their origins were lost to antiquity, rooted in the winding-up of the last Ice Age permitting their distant ancestors to migrate from inland to this new land, which now had been their land from time immemorial. Nurtured by the jungle and the river, the Bandot people, numbering in the high hundreds, had existed in a steady state. They traded with other tribes, further inland, and caravans went back and forth during the dry season. While there were occasional disputes, there was no war, no large-scale conflict. The sea was a source of food, a calming presence, save for those odd times when a storm whipped it into a brief, spiteful frenzy. The sun rose, the people worked and children played and went about their business, and the sun set.
And last night, the sun set on the last day of that age for the Bandot, that long afternoon in the jungle by the sea.
Today is the first day of a new age, bringing promise and peril...indeed, the threat of destruction of the Bandot way of life.
For across the sea came pale-skinned explorers, in a ship called the Dawnbringer. The Dawnbringer was so much bigger than the canoes the tribe plied the river with, bigger even than the fishing-boats the tribe took to sea at times. They came from a distant land. The Dawnbringer had been blown off course by one of the great late-summer storms, and had spotted this land and anchored here. The ship had been damaged, and needed repairs, which would take months without outside assistance. So a skiff was launched, and some of the men paddled it ashore to see what resources this unknown land had to offer. They gripped their muskets, for they knew not what hostile tribes or strange beasts this land might contain. They got to the beach, and pulled the skiff into shore. The leader of the small expedition pointed inland, to a row of trees. If they could find bigger trees of that species, they could be cut to replace the damaged areas of the ship. And where there were trees, there was freshwater--another commodity on the ship that was in short supply at the moment.
The expedition passed the row of trees, and heard running water. Coming around a last row of bushes nearly twice as tall as them, they beheld the sight of a river as wide across as their ship was long, and a native female...The Native Negress
As the cool of the morning surrendered to the heat of the forenoon, Akele had gone to the river to look for flowers, swim, and gather water for her tribe. It was a favorite place for her. And the flowers were a rare kind, used by her mother to make a beautiful purple dye that was much in demand come trading days. The negress was 17, with carefully braided hair laced with colorful beads. Deep chocolate skin. Budding young ebony curves. A beaded skirt, no top. Gold necklaces and jade bracelets. Graceful, she bent down to draw water. It was then that she saw the group of strange, pale men.
They must come from somewhere far away, Akele thought, as she looked them over, seeing their strange garb. Perhaps they had goods to trade. She had heard whispers about pale men from far away. Some thought they were demons. But demons surely would not talk, in voices like she heard the men speak. When demons spoke, you heard it in your head, not your ears.
So she put the jug of water on her head, balancing it deftly, and walked toward the men. She was tall, already developed. As tall, in fact, as the shortest of the white men. She walked confidently, even smiling. They could see she had no weapons...only the jug of fresh, cold water from the spring. She did not recognize the language they spoke in...The Campaign
In this freeform story, a whole slew of ideas and concepts will be explored--central to this, the consequences when an expansionist, Renaissance-level civilization with a racial superiority complex encounters a Bronze Age tribe. It is the less advanced people who tend to get the worst of such encounters, and likely this is what will happen here. The story will likely feature a lot of exploitation of the natives...especially, the native women. However, I've put in some checks and balances to make sure the white explorers don't have a total across the board advantage. For starters, the natives outnumber the explorers about ten to one. Unlike in Earth history, there are no lethal diseases the whites bring with them. The explorers do have firearms, but they are muzzle-loading flintlocks. The ship has eighteen cannon--seven on each side, two in front, two in back--but the effective range of the cannon is about 400 yards over water or level terrain. Moving the cannon ashore would be a formidable undertaking, as they each weigh half a ton, and there are no horses aboard the ship to assist--and the skiffs are too small to carry the cannon to shore anyway.
As for the demeanor of the men...they come from a culture that believes that dark-skinned people are "lesser breeds without the law." God endowed the lighter-skinned race with intellect and reason, and the dark races exist to serve, as slaves, or be pushed aside. Of course, how those deeply-held cultural beliefs manifest in a given individual, and to what extent, will depend on the character. Many of the sailors are in fact uneducated brutes--indentured servants themselves, even criminals shipped off as part of their punishment--who will gleefully oppress others, even irrespective of race, given the chance. Some (especially amongst the officers) may be more educated...but, perhaps, no less racist, as their education merely gives them the "evidence" that supports their trenchant racial chauvinism. A few may be more "enlightened" by our standards...but the pressure to conform to cultural norms likely makes them keep their opinions at least mostly to themselves. In short, we today would consider their treatment of the darker natives to be ignorant, even evil...but to them, it is merely the norm and how things are. (Note that some of the sailors may be evil on general principles, as alluded to above, which is
allowed.) The sailors are not one-dimensional exploiting racists.
They can have a variety of motivations for being on the expedition: to work off a debt or serve a sentence, to see more of the world, scientific curiosity, the pursuit of wealth, raping and pillaging distant lands and their people on general principles, learning the art of seamanship in the hopes of getting a better posting the next time around, finding some land to prove, finding strange beasts and hostile men to battle, and even just jumping ship and getting away from the socially stratified stuffiness of the Old World. The cultural background is just that--a background, and is certainly not intended to be an end-all and be-all for what makes these men tick.
Eventually, the men will repair the ship, and at least most will return to the Old World. And this is the single biggest advantage the sailors have, in the long run: once this land is charted and word of it gets back to the ports of the Old World, there will be more and bigger, better-equipped ships sent to establish a more lasting, more formal colony...
The following posts are available on the ship:
Able Seamen (about 10, experienced sailors, mostly from middle-class families) (spooky)
Seamen (about 25, some experience, from the ranks of the poor)
Recruits (about 30, inexperienced, the lowest rank of freemen)
Convicts and Indentured (about 20, the dregs, from the street and gaol)
The ship's officers all carry flintlocks and pistols, along with armor. Able Seamen are equipped with chain-mail breastplates and flintlocks. Seamen and below carry pikes or cutlasses and crossbows. Convicts and Indentured typically are equipped with only long knives and/or cutlasses. This is a (quasi)-historical game; no one has any super powers or magical abilities. Note that this is a DM-led adventure, so I am playing the "world" the sailors adventure in, including the natives.To start the story, I am looking for four characters (the ones who come on the initial landing party). Once the game "has its legs" and the first scene is complete, I'll open it up for more players.NOTE: Still accepting more players