In A Strange Land: Start Up Notes

Table of Contents

1. Background
1.1. The Mabkuli
1.2. Slick Rock Clan
1.3. Today
2. The Characters
2.1. Primary Role of the Characters
3. Stone Reever

1. Background

1.1. The Mabkuli

The Mabkuli, like other Dwehrow, live underground, usually in mountain ranges. Counter to popular human folktales, the Mabkuli do not live deep underground. They tend to live just below the surface of secluded mountain valleys. Their mines sometimes travel deep underground, but at a certain point, access to breathable air becomes a difficult engineering problem.

Another human folk tale, that is not true, is that the Mabkuli feed on iron, silver, gold and gems. The reality is that the Mabkuli will use their secluded valleys to grow the basic staple foods and herd domesticated mountain goats and kogamas (a hairy nimble deer like creature with four curved horns protruding from its head). The Mabkuli will work the fields and tend to the herds at night, since their eyes are sensitive to the light (though a Mabkuli's eyes will adjust, after about an hour, by forming a protective film of tinted fluid over the eye.

The Mabkuli form clans for social control, survival, and protection. A given clan will consist of several to many families. Male mabkuls will stay with their clans. Female mabkuls stay with their clans until they are married. Cross clan marriages are strongly encouraged, though some of the largest clans, which consists of many sub-clans, will allow intra-clan marriages. A mabkul's clan socially plays a very important role in his/her life. The clan's honor and pride flows within a mabkul's blood. The clan's survival is of the utmost importance.

Mabkuli strongly believe that upon the death of a parent, that parent become a spiritual part of their children. If a mabkul does not have a living child when they die, their soul is lost forever. A child and the child's decendants become the vessel for the parent's soul to continue living. To be sterile is to be cursed with the death of the soul.

Life underground is difficult and hazardous and disabling injuries and death occur on a regular basis.

1.2. Slick Rock Clan

The Slick Rock clan is not one of the 33 major Mabkuli clans. Slick Rock is a young and small clan when compared to the major clans. The clan was formed 10 generations ago (200 years) as a business ventrure between two outcasted members of the Hammerson and Deep Gold Vein clans. Romsger Oggarson of the Hammerson clan and Elty of Deep Gold Vein clan were both gem cutters of their respective clans. Neither Romsger nor Elty spoke of the reasons why they were both casted out of their clans. At the clans height of success there were over 400 individuals. Now, Slick Rock is composed of 28 families and 19 individuals (179 individuals).[1]

The decline in the clan's population has been due to the loss of Dynwar Juttner and his son Yinil Dynwarson. Dynwar, like his late father, was the clan's Stone Reever (see below). Slick rock was blessed when Yinil was born and he passed the Test of the Stone. Yinil being a Stone Reever, ment that once he was trained, the clan would profit from Yinil continuing his grandfather's and father's work. One day, Bjal decided that he would aggravate the earth. The terrible earthquake collapsed the mine shaft where Dynwar, with Yinil and a crew of 30 miners, was opening a new shaft to access a vein of stone that promised a good yield of sapphires. All were lost. Twenty five of the miners were male mabkuli. And at that time, there were more young female mabkuli in the clan than were males. For the twenty years after the tragedy, no Stone Reevers were born to the Slick Rock clan and the female young grew and were married off to other clans. The loss to the clan was devastating.

Mining is a very slow process with out a Stone Reever. Fewer gemstones to cut and sell or barter ment less goods and supplies for the Slick Rock clan. Since Dynwar's and Yinil's death, Slick Rock has continued to loose status amongst the clans. The Slick Rock clan's future looked bleak and on the road to non-existance until just ten years ago. Ten years ago, little Essa Wilgarsdaughter was born. She passed the Test of the Stone and thus was a Stone Reever. When Essa was two years old the clan leaders bartered with the Smith clan for Essa's training. In exchange for 100 high quality sapphires, Olvar, the Smith clan's Stone Reever would train Essa in the use of her gift. Essa and her family temporarily moved to stay with the Smith clan. She will return very soon to complete her training with the miners of Slick Rock.

1.3. Today

The year is CY 12 and the primary industry for the Slick Rock clan continues to be gemstone cutting. The clan is very dependent on their goat herds for milk and meat and on their kogamas herd for clothing and string. The clan is currently struggling to keep everyone fed and healthy. Eventhough there has been hardship, the knowledge that Essa will return soon gives everyone hope for the future.

2. The Characters

Each of the characters will be a mabkul from the Slick Rock clan. The players will have 150 points to initially create their characters. After the characters have been created, the players will then have an additional 40 points to add to their character and their characters will be 1d4 + 10 years older. The characters will have 900 + 10d10 silvers to purchase weapons, armor, and equipment for themselves. Each character has an 85% (d100; 1-85) chance of having a spouse and a 60% (d100; 1-60) chance of having children.

2.1. Primary Role of the Characters

The player characters' play the primary role of clan protectors within the Slick Rock clan. Gems spark the greedy nature in many higher ordered intelligent creatures. Slick Rock clan is in the gemstone cutting business and thus deal in tempting goods. The characters' families have performed the role of clan protectors for several generations and the characters and their immediate family continue that honored tradition.

3. Stone Reever

A Stone Reever is a Mabkuli who is able to fracture stone, at will, by touch. Stone Reeving is a rare talent, blessed upon an individual by the god Bjal, that has made it possible for large societies to live underground. Untrained use of this skill can cause a disaster. It takes years of training and a deep understanding of the structures of stone to be able to safely use the talent.

[1] Does not yet include the characters or their family members, yet.