Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Purple Amber


Purple Amber comes to Wermspittle from the camps set up in the Purple Forest by various Refugees, foreigners, outcasts and others with nowhere else to go. These camps are poorly regulated, rarely monitored and barely managed. Usually someone sets up a lean-to or a tent, starts a fire and then either welcomes others to bed-down nearby or drives them off. It's very informal. Until someone starts a fight. Or a hungry beast prowls a bit too close...

Gathering It Up
Amber-Gatherers tend to travel light, carrying everything they own on their backs. A few have acquired pack-animals but most make-do with what they can manage on their own. They rarely form groups larger than 5-6 individuals and they either learn to make their way through the woods quietly and carefully, or else they don't tend to last very long. They are also more likely to be carrying shovels, scrapers and brush-cutters than swords or axes. The Lumberjacks tend to take an exception to someone else wielding an axe near them and doing so often leads to taunts, jibes and challenges. Sometimes it's in good spirits or for fun, or at least it can start out that way, but these sorts of things tend to spin out of control very quickly. There may be some truth to the Midwives' mutterings about long-term exposure to this place having some sort of effect on people that goes deeper than just the Restless Slumbers.

Sophisticated Competition
Foragers sometimes duck out on their crews to go roaming through the Purple Forest, hoping to score a few decent-sized chunks of Purple Amber. More than a few disgruntled drop-outs and failed apprentices who've been relegated to the Forager-crews by their former mentors and masters have succeeded in either detecting Weak Points or erecting temporary portals to the Purple Forest. For some, it is a better life than working in the Corruption Trade...

Getting It Out...
Everybody knows that it is best to pack Purple Amber in wool or soft cloth, but in a pinch burlap or canvas will do. The stuff that gets really scratched-up can be sold for incense or oil-making. Most Foragers try to pack everything with a layer of smaller chunks and fragments, both to lock the larger chunks into place, and to maximize the pay-off for each load.

Smell That Entrepreneurial Spirit
Lumberjacks and brush-cutters sleep behind stout pallisades, a few have built motte-and-bailey style fortified depots to protect their point of access back into Wermspittle. The Lumber Forts are well-built and better patrolled. The Barons who run things are in rigorous competition with their rivals and sometimes raids take place unfortunate work-place accidents happen. The Lumber Companies pay well, but they expect a good return on their money. They don't let just anyone in through their well-guarded gates. Guarding these sites, keeping things reasonably safe and maintaining things has been a substantial investment and the accountants insist that fees, tolls and charges are attached to everything. They take an especially dim view of free-loaders or vagrants. Of course, there's always the opportunity to engage in a bit of discrete barter, especially when it can be done without having to report the transaction to their superiors and paying the requisite surcharges.

The Lumber Forts are notorious for the high cost of their hospitality. A handful of Purple Amber can make a lot of newfound friends in the Lumber Camps, but only for a short while. It is best not to over-stay one's welcome. It is also a good idea not to lose any sleep over what the same amount of Purple Amber might have fetched from a Buyer in King Clovine's Court. Better a safe place to sleep for a few hours than getting eaten by some hodag or grue.

Unlike the more settled and well-defended folk in the Lumber-Forts, amber-gatherers tend to stay more mobile, following the game trails and lake shores, going wherever they can find deposits of Purple Amber. They also tend to avoid the few roads hacked through the Deep Woods. The lumber companies charge a steep toll to use their roads and the mercenaries hired to patrol them are little better than bandits with a health plan. If you're desperate enough to go looking for Purple Amber, then using the roads is a good way to lose all your amber and possibly your life. A pound of Purple Amber is worth more than a pound of flesh, even in Winter. The buyers back in Wermspittle rarely ask how it was obtained; all they care about is the purity and quality of the stuff. After all, Like they say along the Low Streets; business is business and blood can be washed off.

You Get Used To It...
The Purple Forest and especially the Deep Woods are dangerous, but not much more than the back-alleys and Low Streets of Wermspittle. Anyone who's picked their way through the Burned Over Districts or been forced to take shelter inside one of the Abandoned Properties during a Spring Rain might actually prefer the woods over conditions back home. Of course there are no perytons or man-eating blue-striped bats in Wermspittle. Though there are grues.

At least seven Junctures have been discovered, all but two by Amber-Gatherers. Junctures are unstable cross-over points where the Purple Forest bleeds through into somewhere else. The two Junctures controlled by the Lumber Companies open onto vast tracts of wilderness that may or may not be located on other worlds. Neither Company has been particularly forthcoming in regards to the results of any exploration efforts they may have conducted. Trade Secrets and all that.

2 comments:

  1. Very evocative. I like the idea of the forest bleeding over, and the mention of fortifying the routes back. The side-by-side of the Deep Woods and Low Streets just makes the keen gamer want to check out both...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is a Wermspittle adventure featuring all of this stuff in-the-works currently...

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