Author Topic: Roleplaying a Nomad  (Read 5768 times)

Cutthroat

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Roleplaying a Nomad
« on: September 10, 2009, 12:04:56 PM »
This document has been approved for the website, and can now be found here: http://www.armageddon.org/original/showSubmission.php?submission=597

Roleplaying a Nomad

These are some handy suggestions for people who wish to play a character with a nomadic background. There is never one right way to roleplay something, but these are my observations, after watching players who I thought did it well.

This is done in a similar style to the subguild guides on the main site, and hopefully there will be others. The three original ones are:
http://www.armageddon.org/rp/subguilds/hunter.html
http://www.armageddon.org/rp/subguilds/linguist.html
http://www.armageddon.org/rp/subguilds/physician.html

Enjoy.


What is a nomad?
Nomads, usually originating in the tablelands around Luir's Outpost, speak their own native tongue, Bendune, and are adept at shrewd bartering in the desert markets. If you are playing a character with a nomadic background, you must pick this subclass.

We see a few main points from this description of your average nomad. We see:

- their usual origin (around Luir's)
- they speak bendune
- they have some skill with trading

Other than the origin of the nomad, that's not much. Luckily, this allows us to get quite creative when we design a nomad for play.

Designing a nomad concept

All of the coded tribes have their own unique traits. Take a look at any tribe documentation available on the site and you will see traditions, a general like/dislike for certain things, superstitions, tribal tattoos, and many other things. To list some publicly available examples, the Jul Tavan documents dictate an intolerance for magickers, while Benjari documentation describes the importance of keeping a dagger handy.

As a subguild_nomad, you will likely be playing a representative of a virtual tribe. Designing virtual tribe documentation for your own character is a good way to define where your character is coming from, and where characters related to you might be, if only for yourself or for a biography entry. Here are some aspects you can try to include into your "virtual tribe documentation":

Basics
   What is the name of your tribe?
   What is the race of your tribe?
   Where is camp? Does it move around, and if so, where?
   How large is the tribe?
   How old is the tribe?
   What are the tribe's main sources of income?

Physical appearances
   Hair/eye/skin colors
      Is there a usual set of colors for your tribe?
      Do certain colors imply unseen characteristics (cowardice, leadership, etc.)?
   Body features
      Shapes of ears, noses, lips, etc.
   Tattoos
   Scarification
   Height/weight

Weapons, Armor, and Clothing
   Weapons - Are certain types used? Certain weapon styles?
   Armor - What materials are used in your tribe's armor, how is it worn, and who wears it?
   Clothing - What materials are used in your tribe's clothing, how is it worn, and who wears it?
   Jewelry - Do tribe members wear certain types of jewelry, or of certain materials? How about piercings? Do they differ amongst various members of the tribe?
   Trading - Would your tribe trade these weapons/armor/clothing/jewelry away, or is it for the tribe only? Are certain items reserved for the tribe and not others?

Traditions
   Organization - How does the tribe break down with regards to responsibilities?
   Age - when is a member of the tribe an adult, and what do they do to get to that status, if anything?
   Gatherings - are there gatherings in the tribe that happen on a regular basis? Why?
   Families - If there was only one family in the tribe, everyone would be inbred. How many families are there, how are they distinct?
   Elders - How are elders viewed and what are their responsibilities? How are they chosen?
   Mating - Are there permanent mated relationships? Is there an elaborate process through which mating 'rights' are secured?
   Spirituality - Does your tribe worship anything? Do they have an enduring set of myths or gods? Do they believe in spirits?
   Burials - How does your tribe handle the last rites of its dead and how are the bodies disposed of?

Philosophy
   Object related - do certain objects, or certain types of objects, hold any importance?
   Magickers - Is magick tolerated? Which elements, if so? How about sorcery?
   Water - Water is extremely important in Zalanthas, and especially to tribes. What does your tribe do specially with it?
   Spice - Is spice good or bad? Which types are preferred?
   Views of Outsiders
      City-slickers - How does the tribe view city folk?
      Sand talkers - How does the tribe view other tribes?
   Sayings - Are there special words or phrases to describe things?
   Half-elves - If your tribe is human or elven, what does it think of half-elves in the tribe?
   Punishment - How would your tribal culture handle punishment for misdeeds?
   Xenophobia - How open is your tribe's camp? Would they allow outsiders to enter for trade or cut them down on the spot?

Example of a defined tribe

The Araseik-Betvan (don't use this name; it is a horrible portmanteau) are a tribe of humans hailing from the center of the salt flats.

Most A-Bs are rugged looking, with dark hair, eyes, and skin. Their lifestyle lends a powerful frame to most Betvans and physically handicapped Betvans are often used as bait for hunting. Those born with lighter features are often considered softer and thus less able to deal with life on the flats, and while they are held to the same standards as everyone else, they will often receive less help.

A-B hunters hunt the salt worms and scrabs they come across, using the hides and shells they get for armor, while using the salt worm teeth to create sharp weapons for hunting. They wear necklaces made out of salt worm teeth, and string one salt worm tooth onto the necklace every time they age. A-B gatherers gather salt from the ground, and bring it to Allanak to trade it to House Jal for water, which the gatherers bring back to the tribe. Gatherers are marked with a tattoo of a lump of purple salt on the back of their primary hand, and often wear light sandcloth gear to aid in their work. At the beginning of every year, the hunters gather together for the Great Mekillot Hunt. A tribe member uses something made of mekillot hide or bone often earns that right by leading hunts.

A-B tribals are split into two main families - the Araseik family and the Betvan. There are other smaller families which support one family or the other. Most hunters come from the Araseik and their supporters while the gatherers come from the Betvan and their supporters. Each family has a matriarch and a patriarch, and the biggest family's elders reside over the entirety of the tribe. A-B always carry a piece of glittering salt with them, as an identifier for other tribes in the area. Water is rationed by the Betvan fairly to each tribe member, and sharing of water isn't allowed. Spice is allowed for hunters, but not for gatherers - while the spices help hunters, the gatherers might take it into Allanak accidentally while bringing their salt in to trade for water.

A-B maintains a professional trade relationship with Allanak, but to mingle with Allanakis or other city people in any other way (friendly, sexual) is unthinkable. The result of the union between an A-B and a city person is always killed at birth. New blood is always needed for the tribe however, and A-B are often encouraged to seek out the members of nearby tribes for mating purposes. Magickers are partially tolerated - Vivaduans and Drovians bring much needed relief to the gatherers, and their existence in the tribe is allowed. Other elements are not tolerated, and members found to be learning sorcery are always killed.

Bendune and tribal speech

The helpfile on bendune has this to say about the nomadic tongue:

"The language of the nomadic tribes of the Known World is called Bendune. It bears some resemblance to the elven speech, and even more to the language known as Cavilish. The real history of linguistic development is most likely that the tribal tongues became united at Gol Krathu, several Ages before the arrival of the Dragon, into a more primitive form of Bendune. It was not until many years later that the elven and Cavilish tongues were certain to have existed.

While most contemporary desert tribes are composed of refugees from the city-states or of elven nomads, the Allundean and Sirihish languages are far more common in the wilderness than they once were. On the fringes of the Known World, however, most still speak Bendune, particularly the Tan Muark, who claim it their own invention."

Keeping this in mind, we can derive a few interesting facts about how bendune might be used among virtual tribes, such as your own if you create a subguild_nomad character. If your tribe is further away from the cities, heavy use of bendune (and an unpracticed sirihish) are more likely, while if your tribe is closer, your sirihish would be better. Also keep in mind how your tribe would use sirihish or bendune. If sirihish was mainly being used as a trade language, to speak with city-folk about your tribe's goods and pricing, it is probably not likely that you will be able to understand complex poetry being recited in sirihish. Figure out what makes sense for your character and run with it.

In the real world, speaking a broken language is not equivalent to leaving off syllables of words. Oftentimes when broken language is spoken in real life there are a few key ways that it is broken:
- Verb confusion. In English we say "let's have a party" if we want to have a party. However, some foreign speakers understand the verb "to have" solely as possessing something, so "having" a party in that regard doesn't make much sense. Instead they might say "do a party" or "make a party", which isn't entirely correct in English and its complexity. Feel free to confuse verbs like have/make or other similar verbs in-game.
- Looking for the right word. Even native speakers of a language will pause to think of a proper word to describe something complex. This difficulty is compounded on foreign speakers with a smaller vocabulary of the language. Pause to think of a word that's complex to your PC... maybe the native sirihish speaker you're talking to will think of it for you.
- Unique nouns. Maybe your tribe calls goudra "brown-furs". Maybe your tribe does this and knows what city people call them, or maybe it doesn't... either way, it can provide another challenge in the language barrier that should be there.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2011, 08:44:40 PM by Cutthroat »

Taven

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2009, 11:19:47 PM »
No comments yet? Really? I'm surprised.

I would say that what you have is pretty awesome so far, it makes sure the reader will remember all the aspects involved in tribe creation. However, I also think that adding more to the article would be useful. Why? Because while as-is is a good reasource, many of the questions are similar to ones that would be in a character creation / complex character guide, if not exactly. I think that what might be interesting (other Armers feel free to agree or disagree), to have overviews on some different Earth tribes and what they do/have done. Obviously, we don't want copies of RL tribes (even if they're historic by now), but I think that would give a good idea of tribal type set ups and ideas.

Just my two 'sid. Awesome so far!
As of February 2017, I no longer play Armageddon.

Zoltan

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2009, 11:55:54 PM »
The article-so-far has definitely given me an itch to try a nomad out. I look forward to reading advice on sticking with the nomad mindset, especially if heavy time is spent in a city state.
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Kassindra

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2009, 12:15:51 AM »
I love the article and the example that you used. I think that if you wanted to reference it to something earthly, that'd be your choice but I don't feel personally that it is needed. The article does pique my interest though, in the nomad roleplaying possibilities and I look forward to seeing when it is completed.

Thunkkin

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2009, 01:04:17 AM »
Fantastic article.
Quote from: Synthesis
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You go south and one of the other directions that isn't north.  That is seriously the limit of my geographical knowledge of Arm.
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Old Kank

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2009, 01:20:53 AM »
A couple points:

1:  Just a thought, but you may want to include some of the information from the bendune helpfile in the intro/background section.  I've always felt it very neatly sums up the history of most of the desert-dwelling tribes.

Quote from: Help Bendune
The language of the nomadic tribes of the Known World is called Bendune. It bears some resemblance to the elven speech, and even more to the language known as Cavilish. The real history of linguistic development is most likely that the tribal tongues became united at Gol Krathu, several Ages before the arrival of the Dragon, into a more primitive form of Bendune. It was not until many years later that the elven and Cavilish tongues were certain to have existed.

While most contemporary desert tribes are composed of refugees from the city-states or of elven nomads, the Allundean and Sirihish languages are far more common in the wilderness than they once were. On the fringes of the Known World, however, most still speak Bendune, particularly the Tan Muark, who claim it their own invention.

2:  I think it's important to clarify the distinction between tribal people and nomadic people.  I think it may stem from some ambiguity or mis-direction from the "nomad" helpfile, but all the same, the implications for the character are worth discussing.  If the character is from a truly nomadic tribe, two questions immediately spring to mind: "Why are they nomadic (when life in the cities would likely be easier and more beneficial to their people)?" and "In what areas are they nomadic?"  Does the tribe migrate from one hunting ground to another, or one marketplace to another, or simply from one side of a hunting ground to the other?  If the character is from a settled tribe, then without a significant reason to travel the character would probably spend the majority of their time/life in the areas near their settlement.

Fathi

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2009, 06:01:16 AM »
Bullet points I would add:

Quote
Basics
   What is the name of your tribe?
   What is the race of your tribe?
   Where is camp? Does it move around, and if so, where?
   How large is the tribe? - Should be self-explanatory.
   How old is the tribe? - An ancient self-sufficient group or a recent offshoot from a larger entity?
   What are the tribe's main sources of income? - Trade? Raiding? Manufacturing of goods? Scouting/guiding people? Scavenging? Training mounts?

Physical appearances
   Hair/eye/skin colors
      Is there a usual set of colors for your tribe?
      Do certain colors imply unseen characteristics (cowardice, leadership, etc.)?
   Body features
      Shapes of ears, noses, lips, etc.
   Tattoos
   Scarification
   Height/Weight

Weapons, Armor, and Clothing
   Weapons - Are certain types used? Certain weapon styles?
   Armor - What materials are used in your tribe's armor, how is it worn, and who wears it?
   Clothing - What materials are used in your tribe's clothing, how is it worn, and who wears it?
   Jewelry - Do tribe members wear certain types of jewelry, or of certain materials? How about piercings? Do they differ amongst various members of the tribe?
   Trade of Weapons/Armour/Clothing/Jewelry - Would your tribe trade away any of these things? What is for the family only?

Traditions
   Organization - How does the tribe break down with regards to responsibilities?
   Age - when is a member of the tribe an adult, and what do they do to get to that status, if anything?
   Gatherings - are there gatherings in the tribe that happen on a regular basis? Why?
   Families - If there was only one family in the tribe, everyone would be inbred. How many families are there, how are they distinct?
   Elders - How are elders viewed and what are their responsibilities? How are they chosen?
   Mating - Are there permanent mated relationships? Is there an elaborate process through which mating 'rights' are secured?
   Spirituality - Does your tribe worship anything? Do they have an enduring set of myths or gods? Do they believe in spirits?
   Burials - How does your tribe handle the last rites of its dead and how are the bodies disposed of?

Philosophy
   Object related - do certain objects, or certain types of objects, hold any importance?
   Magickers - Is magick tolerated? Which elements, if so? How about sorcery?
   Water - Water is extremely important in Zalanthas, and especially to tribes. What does your tribe do specially with it?
   Spice - Is spice good or bad? Which types are preferred?
   Views of Outsiders
      City-slickers - How does the tribe view city folk?
      Sand talkers - How does the tribe view other tribes?
   Sayings - Are there special words or phrases to describe things?
   Half-elves - If your tribe is human or elven, what does it think of half-elves in the tribe?
   Punishment - How would your tribal culture handle punishment for misdeeds?
   Xenophobia - How open is your tribe's camp? Would they allow outsiders to enter for trade or cut them down on the spot?
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And rise above my station

Cutthroat

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2009, 08:20:51 AM »
Much appreciated comments, folks. Please, keep them coming as I work on a second version of this guide.

Is Friday

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2010, 12:39:52 PM »
Cutthroat, it would be cool if you wrote up a section about "developing tribal speech". Since characters of nomadic background probably speak bendune a majority of the time, speaking sirihish for them would be mashed up or simple.

With that being said, if you recommend people talk with half-words and fifty of these per sentence----> '

I will kill you. I did this as a novice, and man, I feel so bad for people having to deal with that. Simple sentence structure, lack of embellishment, and difficulty in understanding advanced concepts in a conversation would be such an improvement over that, imo.
And then I sat there going "really? that was it? that's so stupid."

I still think the best closure you get in Armageddon is just moving on to the next character.

Cutthroat

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2010, 01:52:17 PM »
Woah, forgot about this thing. I will give it a look over again and consider how to fit in your suggestion Is Friday, thanks.

Zerero

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2011, 11:57:33 PM »
This has really made me want to make a Linguist  character!

Is Friday

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2011, 08:19:15 AM »
Woah, forgot about this thing. I will give it a look over again and consider how to fit in your suggestion Is Friday, thanks.
Stop slacking.
And then I sat there going "really? that was it? that's so stupid."

I still think the best closure you get in Armageddon is just moving on to the next character.

Cutthroat

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2011, 08:28:08 AM »
Woah, forgot about this thing. I will give it a look over again and consider how to fit in your suggestion Is Friday, thanks.
Stop slacking.

I was hoping for more collaboration, actually. :\ Same reason why I pretty much abandoned my plot thread in this forum. I didn't want a huge part of it to be in my own words.

Edit: I edited the first post to accommodate the suggestions so far, and I'll just go ahead and submit it soon if there are no further comments.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2011, 08:56:21 AM by Cutthroat »

Thunkkin

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2011, 12:11:48 PM »
By the way, CT, this thread was invaluable to me at one point, so thanks!
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You go south and one of the other directions that isn't north.  That is seriously the limit of my geographical knowledge of Arm.
Sarge?

Is Friday

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2011, 07:06:21 AM »
Woah, forgot about this thing. I will give it a look over again and consider how to fit in your suggestion Is Friday, thanks.
Stop slacking.

I was hoping for more collaboration, actually. :\ Same reason why I pretty much abandoned my plot thread in this forum. I didn't want a huge part of it to be in my own words.

Edit: I edited the first post to accommodate the suggestions so far, and I'll just go ahead and submit it soon if there are no further comments.

I'll add some stuff to it this weekend, broski. Post a reminder or something Saturday/Sunday, because I may forget.
And then I sat there going "really? that was it? that's so stupid."

I still think the best closure you get in Armageddon is just moving on to the next character.

Cutthroat

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2011, 07:53:24 PM »
Woah, forgot about this thing. I will give it a look over again and consider how to fit in your suggestion Is Friday, thanks.
Stop slacking.

I was hoping for more collaboration, actually. :\ Same reason why I pretty much abandoned my plot thread in this forum. I didn't want a huge part of it to be in my own words.

Edit: I edited the first post to accommodate the suggestions so far, and I'll just go ahead and submit it soon if there are no further comments.

I'll add some stuff to it this weekend, broski. Post a reminder or something Saturday/Sunday, because I may forget.

Would you like to add anything else? I'll send it in in a couple of days or so I think.

Is Friday

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad [WIP]
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2011, 08:21:43 PM »
I thought about it and couldn't really come up with anything. This is a great basis.
And then I sat there going "really? that was it? that's so stupid."

I still think the best closure you get in Armageddon is just moving on to the next character.

Cutthroat

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2011, 08:44:00 PM »
This document has been approved for the website, and can now be found here:

http://www.armageddon.org/original/showSubmission.php?submission=597

Cindy42

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2011, 12:49:03 AM »
Increase in the number of nomad apps, coming right up.

Seriously though, I've never played a nomad, mostly because I didn't know enough to be intrigued, but this is good.
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Thunkkin

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Re: Roleplaying a Nomad
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2011, 11:07:44 AM »
Thanks CT. Very valuable contribution.
Quote from: Synthesis
Quote from: lordcooper
You go south and one of the other directions that isn't north.  That is seriously the limit of my geographical knowledge of Arm.
Sarge?