Americana (DnD Campaign Setting)/Groups
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Americana is a vast land, true, but it is also largely empty. The land bears no single empire- rather a gaggle of small Nation-States, each with a major capital city and an expanse of land around it. No two states are quite alike, and very few are on good terms with one another- a major continent-wide war just ended, leaving behind a lot of residual hostility that has been piled atop the preexisting national elitism and racism.
In addition to the Nations themselves, numerous Societies exist- some within individual nations, some within several, and some spanning the entire continent. And at least one exists within no known nation, and yet has eyes and ears in all of them.
- 1 Nations
- 2 International Groups
- 3 Natives
- 4 The Native America
The Nation design is simple, and perhaps more properly referred to as a Nation-State--small and medium-sized towns and communities on a tract of land, centered around a single, larger Capital City. No concise, complete census has ever been taken of the entire continent.
The twenty-one Nation-States do take up roughly half of the continent's landmass, and as such anyone wandering the land will spend most of his time in them. They are listed as follows, clockwise around the continent from the top: Chicago, St. Paul, Detroit, Indianapolis, New York, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, Phoenix, Tombstone, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Alcatraz, Portland, Seattle, Yellowstone, Salt Lake, and Missouri.
For more intensive detail on the various Nations, see the respective sub-page.
|“|| My grandmother once told me of a Native tribe, living in the north. They were largely peaceful, settling disputes through legal manner, valuing honesty above all else and an even hand in all affairs. One day some traders came from the south, having brought products from our land. This tribe was one of tales and lore, and asked for stories of their travels.
These traders told my grandmother that today, in this tribe, when they wish to describe a situation that is so hopelessly confused and riven with strife and lies that it seems beyond repair, they say it is "Mexico".
|—Diego Entorres, Lieutenant, Ejército Mexicano|
Mexico sits to the south, vast and unknown to most Americ peoples. Dallas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles have the most frequent contact with them, and their traders can be seen in ports all along the coasts, but little is known about their homeland. What is known is that it is hot--very hot--, wet, and densely populated, with a myriad of peoples who would be considered separate races and nations up North but who all think of themselves as part of the "Meheek". Mexico rarely interacts with its northern neighbors, as a vast, baking desert separates them from the North, and also because in addition to being alien it sometimes isn't there. Mexico is a unified country under an Emperor--something even the most ambitious Americ leaders only dream about--but seemingly every other year becomes wrought with fractious, ferocious factionalism. Sometimes this leads to them simply sitting there and doing nothing while the internal debate rages. Other times, the country will erupt into civil war, splintering into a half dozen quarreling groups. As of yet, however, none have been a permanent division--Mexico always reforms, and the Emperor resumes his rightful place. It is doubtful that the cycle will break any time soon--to do so would require some dramatic change in the character of the place.
A Word of Caution
Even within the Nation-States, the countryside is not always safe. In general, you have nothing but the government (and maybe organized crime) to fear when you're within the limits of any city, be it a tiny community or a sprawling metropolis- all the Nations have established themselves heavily enough (and built sizable enough military forces) to ensure peace for their citizens.
But in the countryside, patrols are less frequent and police fewer in number, raising the likelihood of running into something nasty- human or not- from none to pretty darn good. And when you leave the borders of the Nations, you take your safety completely into your own hands.
The International Geographic Society
For everyone who wants to find their fortune in the wilderness, or to found an empire, or to become a god or some other nonsense, there is someone who just wants to know what's out there. Those people join the International Geographic Society, founded by Gardiner Hubbard and Johanna Muir in Atlanta, only one year ago. Still in its nascent stage, the International Geographic Society has endorsements from around the world--the Grand Aide of Atlanta, the Governor of New York, the Queen of Chicago, and the High Priest of Los Angeles have all given the organization their blessing, along with several corporations and the combined hurrahs of the Americ intelligentsia. Gardiner Hubbard is the uncle of the famous Samuel Marconi, inventor of the Marconi Wire, and one of the richest men in New York. Having made his fortune several times over on the tech trade, he became enchanted with the wild frontier of Americana and joined forces with a San Franciscan druid named Johanna Muir to ensure that it was discovered--and not destroyed in the process.
The International Geographic Society has the long-term goal of mapping and charting the entirety of Americana--from the deepest cave to the highest mountain, the most fetid swamp to the most barren desert. This has some degree of economic interest--accurate charts benefit every aspect of the financial and governmental world--but more than that is a philanthropic exercise for the greater good of everyone. In addition, the IGS seeks to ensure that the new industrial trends do not completely eradicate the beauty and splendor of the natural world in the name of progress, and has been hiring painters, photographers, and writers to locate the most outstanding examples of natural marvel and document them, to be printed in the Society's new circular, which it refers to as a magazine--"an arsenal of information in the fight for nature".
The IGS is still young, but has plentiful funding behind it and some very powerful endorsements. That said, its money pales in comparison to the financial resources of the industrial world, which looks at a towering redwood forest and sees buildings and ships, or a pristine valley and sees the coal deposits beneath it. Its job far outstretches its reach, but the far-sighted people on the IGS council only see that as a challenge. The IGS is willing to hire any adventurer with the sharpness of mind and steadiness of hand to draw maps, and anyone with an artistic bent is likely to find an eager ear there.
The Order of Hedge Wizards
Magic is a rare talent in Americana, but even so, the Academies of Magic do not admit everyone. Some people may prove unsuitable to academy life; unable to live up to standards or behavior restrictions, or unable to keep up with workload. Others may be too remotely situated, unable to travel, or by some other means unable to make it to the grounds of any of the Three. Some may want to practice magic in ways that the Academies don't approve of--while necromancy is frowned upon by pretty much everyone, the Academies can be picky about performance in ways that aren't obvious to your magical layman.
These wizards are commonly referred to as hedge wizards, a broad term for anyone magical who has not received formal training. Like-minded and abilitied people tend to gravitate together regardless of problems and distance, and as such since the early days of Americ nations the Order of Hedge Wizards has spoken for the orderless wizards of Americana. A mostly informal organization, the OHW can provide support to a wizard in need--fundingwise if necessary, but mostly through coordination and providing a platform for activism. They can organize a ritual team, locate difficult components, or simply provide a safe and warm place to stay for a card-carrying member wherever their reach extends. It is one of the more respected private organizations in Americana, if also one of the most underfunded, and has its head office in New Orleans' Bourbon District.
The OHW does coordinate to some extent with the magical Academies; it helps ensure the use of the roughly standardized mage uniform, and helps to track down magical threats to the world at large in those rare cases where this happens. However, relations are formal, and occasional efforts by one or another Academy over the years to establish control over the OHW by one means or another have been rebuffed.
Poletiazhelyi Airship Company
The Poletiazhelyi Airship Company is a Chicago-based corporation that is Americana's sole builder and seller of zeppelins. Though the original airship was built for the Queen of Chicago, after orders began to be made, PAC showed no problem at selling across national borders.
Though the company does not price-gouge, its services nevertheless are astronomically expensive--nothing short of a Nation-State or a vast corporation can afford to buy and operate an airship. In addition, the company holds a complete monopoly on the superlifting gas, augusten, which is essential to airship operation. It is headed by Mikhail Poletiazhelyi, the designer of the original, who oversees design and construction, but by and large its finances and operation are run by August von Zeppelin, his good friend, who discovered the gas that was key to flight.
Few adventuring groups will ever have the cash to buy, let alone operate an airship of their own, but that doesn't mean PAC holds nothing for them. The company is always working to expand both their market and their scope, and as a result they always have work for adventurers to do--searching for lost surveying teams and scouting for new mines being the two most common.
The PAC, in six years of operation, has only had two of its airships crash, and only one of those could not be recovered and repaired. But as Poletiazhelyi airships become a more and more common sight, the likelihood is greater and greater that some day, some ambitious ne'er-do-well will try and bring one down from the sky--something that PAC has almost certainly not considered. But should it happen, rest assured they'll be looking for help in no time.
Red Dog Mercenary Company
The Red Dog Mercenary Company is the largest private contractor of military troops and equipment in all of the Americ nations, and is based out of a warehouse on Chicago's South Side. Red Dog was founded by a human named Foss Fawkes, who served in the New York Army during the Detroit-New York War, and has come to dominate the market in the years following the end of the Twenty Years' War, having shrewdly kept from contracting to either side of any conflict involving Chicago and thus developing a strong appearance of impartiality. Their success record is nearly 90%, which for a company of that size is unheard of, and they have a reputation for getting things done--no matter the cost.
Most of which you'll hear on the bumphs if you're in the market for mercenaries. Those with touchier morals steer clear of Red Dog--while clean on the surface the rumor mill is rife with stories of atrocities committed by their mercenaries. Innocents slaughtered, families brutalized and extorted, settlers burned out, scared out, or simply disappeared. Nothing's ever been proven, of course, but something about the Red Dog stinks. Additionally, those who have encountered them frequently may note that while their ads are as multicultural as they come, non-humans in Red Dog's ranks are... scarce.
Shining Seas Railroad
There are more railway companies in the Nations than you can count, most of them small holding companies which run the short-gauge railroads within national borders. Only one company has grown large enough to operate internationally--Shining Seas, which has a continental monopoly endorsed by Las Vegas and New York on overland freight traffic. Shining Seas is indescribably rich, but also indescribably troubled. Airships pose a potential threat to their trade monopoly, but one to be considered for the future due to the cost of manufacturing them and their upkeep. What poses an immediate problem is Americana's bandit problem--Shining Seas rail offices and freight trains make for prizes of a lifetime for your average bandit, and despite increasing investment in protection continue to be preyed upon with alarming regularity. As such, Shining Seas faces competition not only from the future in the form of the airship, but in the past in the form of stagecoaches, which can operate with much less infrastructure and make much less prominent targets.
The company is not yet sweating, but concern has been noted and steps are being taken. Shining Seas holds somewhat higher standards for troubleshooters than the Wire Corporation but nevertheless hires broadly out of necessity, and in addition to being extremely vindictive against bandits is very protective of their monopoly. If anyone should threaten their standing, they might find themselves deemed a problem to require troubleshooting.
The Wire Corporation
The Wire Corporation is an inter-national trust headed by Samuel Marconi, dedicated to the upkeep and improvement of the Marconi Wire network. The network is one of the few things that all of Americana's nations agree on and support, and as a result the Wire Corporation is never short on funding--much of which, nowadays, goes towards hiring outside help. The sheer size of the Wire network means that the Corporation is stretched thin even with unlimited funding; nowadays, it is common practice for them to pay adventurers and explorers to investigate Wire breaks and outages in hazardous areas, instead of sending their own limited personnel.
Because of this, Wire offices and whatever establishments are near them have become focal points for the country's drifters, freelancers, and dream-chasers, brought there by the lure of assured (if not exactly regular) work. The Wire's Central Office is located in New York's Plymouth Territories, on the Americ mainland, as close to midway between Detroit and New York as it can get and still remain within the latter's borders.
Native, in Americana, is a word with many meanings. Specifically, it refers to those members of the thinking races who feared (or foresaw) the return of large-scale war at the end of the Great War, and forsook the Seven Generals and their nascent societies to live more simply in the empty spaces between nations. These are primarily elves and goblins, though the definition also includes orcs, lizardfolk, and various populations of humans and kobolds depending on how it's stretched. Natives today are often looked down upon as backwards, ignorant, and barbaric, only worthy of being pushed aside so that progress can march on properly. This is not the case universally, of course--many fringe populations admire and even favor the Native ways, and at least four nations (St. Paul/Minneapolis, Portland, Yellowstone, and San Francisco) are actively friendly towards the Natives and advocate for them to an extent. As this includes none of the Seven Nations and only one that can be classed as close to a major power, this is an uphill battle.
The Natives, for their part, do not eschew technology--the exact opposite is true, as any person with eyes in their head can see how effective a flintlock is at hunting compared to a bow, how much better an iron kettle is for cooking than a hide bag, or how much warmer and cozier woven cloth is to hide. They will readily adopt technology that helps enhance their way of life, but few are even considering giving up that way of life right now, and given how hard-pressed they have become, this has become a point of great contention among many Native tribes.
The term "civilized" is commonly used to describe people from the Nations or other technologically organized and advanced societies in comparison to Natives; while this reflects a value judgment and is open to fierce debate, it is nonetheless the language of the day, and so it is used here.
The Native America
The Northeastern Tribes
Includes the Superi, Lawra, Attica, Niagara, and Pensivi Tribes.
The Natives of the Northeast (with the exception of the Brika, who are no longer really Natives) are now few in number, as the largest tribes in the region have either been absorbed into the existing nations or driven south into the Atlantic Mountains territory and been absorbed by the Native tribes there. Those that do remain hold a smoldering resentment for the Detroi and New Yorki, and though they shy away from outright attacking people in these areas they will be quite reluctant to cooperate with them. Civilized characters will find life among the Northeast Natives icy at best and outright combative at worst, especially for those from Detroit or New York; characters from Portland, Minnesota, Yellowstone, or any other Native tribes will have easier times of it.
The Eastern Swampland Tribes
Includes the Poto, Hattera, Sumta, Okeefa, Wih'kill, and Disnee tribes.
The Native population of the East Coast swamps is made up largely of lizardfolk--the hulking, humanoid reptiles who have made the marshes and bogs their home since time immemorial. Few large tribes, in the manner of the Plain Natives, exist--most lizardfolk live in small, isolated units, only coming together for festivals or ceremonies of various sorts. Those few large tribes have situated themselves well away from each other, across the vast swamps of the East Coast: they tend not to get along, and do their best to keep to their own lands.
Despite their fearsome appearance, the majority of the lizardfolk are quite friendly towards the civilized nations, a result of proactive diplomatic action in the past. The same is true of the Wih'kill, the only major elven tribe in the East Coast marshes, who have long had excellent relations with Atlanta's government. Though venturing into the deep swamplands without explicit permission will still likely get you a spear through the gut, the outlying areas are generally safe to traverse. However, not all the tribes are so friendly- many minor tribes are quite hostile towards any and all outsiders, and will react accordingly if you come within range.
And then there are the Disnee, who require special mention.
The Disnee Tribe
The Disnee are the primary inhabitants of the Floridan Peninsula, south-east of Atlanta, and are by a good measure the biggest thorn in that government's side. They are the only major Swampland Tribe to be outright hostile to outsiders, staging frequent raids on Atlantean towns to murder, pillage, and kidnap. They are also the only major tribe in the area other than the Wih'kill not exclusively made up of lizardfolk; a good portion of their members are elves, while others are human.
The reason for this is also the reason the usually lenient and forgiving Atlanta has sworn to completely destroy them. The Disnee expand their ranks a great deal by kidnapping children from wherever they can manage--the Wih'kill elves, the Atlantean humans, the Okeefa lizardfolk--and then indoctrinating them into their tribe. They are known to have an almost reverent love of children, treating their young almost better than their tribal leaders, but the exact reason for the practice is unknown, as are the methods--the end result, however, is that Disnee children (and by extent the adults they grow to become) are absolutely ruthless and cold-blooded.
Rumors speak of ancient cities, full of wealth and magic, which are the location of whatever it is that changes Disnee children. The truth is known, but only to a select few. With help from the New York Navy and information bought at great price from Houston, an Atlantean military contingent landed far down the Peninsula in 75 A.G. and cut and fought its way through the jungle, eventually reaching one of the "Magic Cities". What they found there is a national secret of the Atlantean, New Yorki, and Houstonian governments, and has been closely guarded ever since it was discovered. But according to the rumor mill, the "Magic Cities" are actually the places where the true masters of the Disnee Tribe, whatever they may be, dwell.
The Tribes of the Atlantic Mountains
Includes the Ohi, Kenuck, and Memphat tribes.
The main body of the orc population lives in the Atlantic Mountains, and is divided into so many small subfamilies that listing them would take a book of its own. The two largest are the Kenuck and Memphat, who live on either sides of the Mobile River in the mountainous heartland and have a reputation as ferocious, almost bloodthirsty rivals. Skirmishes between the tribes are common even for orcs, and fierce stratifications are fast developing between those orcs living west and east of the Mobile, hindering attempts at organization. The Ohi are evenly mixed between goblins, elves, and humans, and are most famous for their role in helping the Minnesote and St. Paulites win the Battle of the Ohi Valley. This has earned them some goodwill towards official recognition, but the tribe has yet to decide if it wants that or not--given that a large part of its population includes former Northeasterners, the current climate leans towards "not".
The Great Plain Tribes
Includes the Moine, Akrota, Mayche, Olathe, Daktaw, Rushmore, Iowa, and Wakupa tribes. The Wakupa and Olathe are primarily goblin tribes, while the Akrota and Iowa are half human, half elven. The others are purely or majority elven, a ratio which translates to the smaller tribes with fair accuracy.
The largest Native population on the continent lives in the Great Plain, the vast, unsettled space that separates the Atlantics and the Pacifics, and Chicago from Dallas. These also form the largest, most organized Native tribes, who are largely nomadic peoples who follow the life cycles of the various animals of the Plain, primarily the great buffalo. They are notoriously fierce warriors, who respond to uninvited incursions to their land with ferocious attacks that include some of the best cavalry on the continent, rivaled in quality only by Dallas and surpassing even them in their knowledge of using the terrain of the Plain to their advantage. However, those who befriend or otherwise work their way into Plainsfolk society will find them to be passing loyal as friends and comrades, the closest thing to family, and more than willing to teach their ways and their lore--the Plains Natives are, after all, fiercely proud of their way of life, so anyone who shows interest will likely learn more than they can handle.
The Natives have been discussing how to hold onto what is theirs--with the recent peace, the armies that once merely marched across their lands may wish to march in. As such, in the next year they plan to meet in a Council of Eight Fires--a formal discussion on finding a new solution to their oldest problem. What may come of it is anyone's guess.
While it is common knowledge that the Great Plain is by and large an uninteresting, flat spread of land, rumors persist of ancient cities that somehow survived the annihilation of the other cities on the continent. Explorers have never seen any proof of these claims, other than long-abandoned road systems and a strange variant of domesticated corn common to the area, and if the Natives know (or care), they aren't telling.
Pigs were once common in the area, but overhunting has made most of the varieties either very rare or outright extinct. Many of the Great Plain tribes are masters of domesticating all kinds of animals, including some that have been considered otherwise untamable, such as the griffons of Rushmore. This art is almost certainly tied to their druidic arts, but the secrets are closely held and not bought cheaply.
The Tribes of the Pacific Mountains
Includes the Spuda, Monomo, Zebute, Tuzon, and Sahton tribes.
The Spuda, Monomo, and Zebute are all orcish subfamilies, and are most notorious in civilized society for being perpetual enemies of Salt Lake City, which not everyone is opposed to. The Zebute also feature a large goblin population, a reflection of the War and the common closeness of those races at the time, and as a result are considerably more technologically sophisticated than most Native tribes, keeping watch over their land with elaborate defenses and cunning traps and war machines. The tribes of Yellowstone are not included among them, being considered incorporated under the Copper Lord (and containing few tribes entire, anyway). The Tuzon and Sahton tribes are the two known groups of bandscale lizardfolk, currently dwelling nomadically among the oases between Phoenix and El Paso.
The Cordillera Coast Tribes
Includes the Vencuuva, Raine, Manzar, Nevada, Yosemi, and Socala tribes.
The tribes of the Cordillera Coast are potentially the most famous Native tribes, except for possibly the Minnesote, as the Raine, Manzar, Yosemi, and Nevada make up cumulatively the nation of Portland. To what extent they can still be called Natives is up for debate, but as Portland self-identifies with the Natives and works to support their way of life, the debate is usually an academic one. The Socala tribe is the largest majority-goblin Native group on the continent, and as it exists largely in the foothills between Los Angeles and San Francisco, one of the ones most strongly considering moving. San Francisco is currently debating putting the Socala under their protection, but things rarely move quickly in that land, and the Socala may make the decision for them first. The Vencuuva are the only known tribe of moosemen, though several others are known to exist; Seattle's desire to know more about its perennial foes has led to slow patterns appearing. The Vencuuva are the largest and most "settled" known moosemen tribe, known to make large habitations along the coast north of Seattle and to be exceptional seafarers, capable of hunting great whales and scrapping with the Alcatrazi for dominion over the waters.
|“||What do I think about 'em? Bunch of sea water drinkin' loonies. The whole lot of them. Good shots, though.||”|
|—Roger Wilkins, Appalachian Bootlegger|
To say that the humans who live in the Potoma Marsh are bit off, is both an understatement and a misunderstanding. Understatement because of the 'demons' and the monsters that inhabit the dark marshes. Misunderstanding because they are, for the most part, normal people just trying to live their lives the way they choose.
If you're human, and you live in the swamp, then you're a "swampy". Hundreds of people live in the endless quagmire of the Potoma Marsh, either because they can no longer live elsewhere or because it's where they've always lived. Though they're somewhat backwards, the swampies are generally congenial, and can be divided into three notable groups.
The first group live in villages based entirely on rafts and shores of the marsh, out on the edge where it melts into Norfolk Bay. They make their trade fishing the bay, bringing in larger-than-life fish, enormous blue crab, and dire clams and mussels, all of which fetch high prices in the fishmarkets of New York and Detroit. If any of the Marsh's inhabitants can be considered "normal", it's these people, who live out on the fringe of the desolate mire for no reason other than they've always done so. Most of their trade is smoked fish, salt clam, and huge pearls. Interestingly enough, their diet consists of two thirds of that added with fresh crab and kelp that they grow in the bay.
The second type of swampie live in hamlets consisting of two or three clans living in buildings built on stilts, in trees, and suspended from the canopies by ropes. Most of their trade is whatever they dredge out of the marsh- more exotic forms of food, mostly, but every now and then a farmer will come across an artifact from the times before the Great War, and draw a lot of attention. What they eat consists of whatever game they can hunt, what they get via trade, and a type of long grain rice that can survive the harsh, salty conditions of the marsh. A typical swampie farmer's tools consists of a threshing sickle with a long handle and a pair of sturdy six-foot-long stilts, and a wicker basket strapped to their back.
Finally, we come to the final type of swampie. This is the one that are the foundation to most of the legends of the Potoma swamp folk. Large single families living in cabins built on the few sturdy islands. While most of these are very clandestine folk that prefer privacy, sometimes, rarely, you'll run into a family deep into the dank swamps that are taken straight from the horror stories. Inbreeding, cannibalism, and bloody ritualistic black magic.
Thankfully, instances of such people are rare, and any rumored or reported are dealt with heavily by the swamp's other natives- they tend to be dangerous, and fond of doing harm to anyone else they find, which doesn't sit well with anyone.
Though the majority of the swampies are essentially friendly to outsiders, the line between friend and foe is often blurred- Potoma Marsh (and by extension, any marsh on the East Coast) is an extremely hostile environment, and survival in such a region often requires a hair trigger and a healthy dose of paranoia.