Thursday, May 5, 2011

What My Oldest Told Me: A Personal View of Nocturne Goblin Culture

As I mentioned in an earlier post, all of the players for the Last Fleet campaign put together cultural backgrounds for their characters. I had them use the Glorantha question template "What My Father Told Me." They took several different approaches- I thought I'd share a couple of them over a couple of posts.

What My Oldest Told Me: A Personal View of Nocturne Goblin Culture
Who are you?
Macky Squint to my old friends, though there’s fewer every week it seems, and twin to the Estimable Lady Maddy who, bless her, is still around to bend my ear; to the Nocturne Tribunal, I’m the Master Fitter of Drek-Sable Tunnels, just so you know I’m not a nobody beyond this place, and, a’ course, First Greater Uncle to you, little missy. Where’d you get those ridiculous boots?

Who are we?
Dirt and weeds, child! What sort of question is that? We’re the Drek-Sable Gobbos! Orange and green are our colors and we stomp the squish out of our foes, soon as we get them knocked down, that is. Stomping’s the easy part, of course. Or would be, if you weren’t wearing such spindly- heeled boots. Did you get those from some faerie door-to-dooring it? Because we put up signs. No faeries selling frippery. No buying faerie frippery. Sumthin’ like that. You read the signs, right?

We’re law-abiding Nocturne and don’t you forget it. No wild’uns here and no forgetting that you’re expected to read the signs.

What makes us great?
Great? How much wax you got in them ears of yours? Haven’t I drug you through the ups and downs to see the mushroom caves and the squidling nests and the workrooms for re-fitting of the brass and copper and iron bit-bobs that we do. Drek-Sable uses what others think ain’t good no more...and makes it better’n it was before. We don’t need much, so we always have extra. And our mushrooms are the very best.

And ‘course, we got the knack for cajoling the machines. Anyone’s got a gun...they’re prolly carrying Drek-Sable work and they paid stone to have a Drek-Sable mesh ‘em up to that shooter.

But most of all, it’s the Sky Squid, little girly. Ain’t nobody can help but admire a well-trained & meshed Sky Squid.

Where do we live?
We’re lucky like this...most of our neighbors are Nocturne, so we ain’t got to worry about people tromping through our up-top gardens. Drek-Sable is the northwesterly uppish third of the Last Mountain tunnels. We picked this spot up after the Dwarves vamoosed to go flying around and got themselves killed. Not sure where we were before...but this is pretty fine so I don’t worry on it too much.

Anyways, we got the Orcs below in the foothills...they have to put up with more people traipsing over their celery. As you know, our tunnels and their tunnels make a real nice highway all the way to the edges south and east on good ol’ Last Mountain. There’s a passel of Trolls set up in the Northeasterly tunnels some years back- they been working on a great big ship in the fissure for the Counsel and I go help with that sometimes- suggestions and pulleys and what-not..

How do we live?
Heh. Ok, I’m on to you. This is some sorta pretending-ta-be-an-idiot game. You distracting me from something I ought to be noticing? Best not be or I’ll hide you when I catch you and yours up to it.

How do we live? Hmph. Ok...I’ll play along. Drek-Sable are pretty smart—so we work hard to only do things we like doing. Mostly we like puzzling things out and filling up containers with things it’s nice to have. We got plenty of stone, so anyone wants to be a magic user just loads up with that and goes downhill to train with the Orcs to learn Forgiveness of Stone. That’s good stuff. Food and hitting hard...that’s what all that’s about. So the mage-y types come back and putter around with the gardens and the orchards and the kitchens and the pantries and the mushrooms. And if the Orcs get into some big ol’ fight, sometimes they’ll go watch that and buff up the Nocturne lads. We’re team-players, the Drek-Sable.

Lessee...if you’re more of a puzzly sort, you make stuff or you remake stuff or you figure out how to get a machine to mind you or how to mind someone else...which is much harder. And you hold on to the best things you make or remake or mesh, if they’re a good fit...and eventually you’ve got a nice little kit of doohickeys that are, well, pretty much who and what you are. Be sure to get yourself a Sky Squid if you get the chance. You gotta get on the waiting list, you know...and even then, you might not pass muster with any of the Squidlings. Some people don’t. But you’re niece to me and Lady Maddy, so you’ll probably have the sort of stink they like.

Other than that, it’s pretty much same as everyone. Eat & sleep as necessary, have some kids eventually...if for no other reason than the sheer comedy of the early years.

What is important in my life?
How do I know? You’re supposed to figure that out yourself. It’ll probably be magic or making- and it’ll definitely be filling up containers. That’s how we are. Just remember, we got it easy because we’re smart...so if ever things get not-so-easy, you got to get smarter. That’s the Drek-Sable way.

Who rules us?
Uhhh. Listen kid. You listen to your elders, you’ll be okay. We listen to whatever Nocturne muckity-whosit has got hisself a quorum and we play along. We can afford to do that. The big guys keep a lot of un-Nocturne greedy sorts from trying anything funny. And they don’t ask that much because they think we can’t do much since we’re little. That’s just fine.

What makes a person great?
Smarts. Lots of full containers. And a Sky Squid impresses everyone, kiddo.

What is evil?
Belligerent ignorance. Boredom. Hurting your twin. Prolly some other things, but those’re the ones I’ve seen and I don’t like them one bit.

What is my lot in life?
Well, if you choose magic, I understand you got to go live with the Orcs for a bit and they’re big on calisthenics and hitting stuff. So you’d expect some sore muscles and maybe some bruises and a whole lot of memorizing. But you eat well. Then you come back to the Tunnels and get on with the gardens and the pantries.

If you choose the making or the re-making, then you just go from workroom to workroom until you find one that’s got an opening for something you’re able to do. And you get to doing it. From there, you learn more things from that workroom and later you can pick up and move on if you want or stick there and master that work ‘til you’re the Master of the room. If you got the spark for meshing, you’ll figure it out along the way. It’s just how it’s done.

How do we deal with others?
We trade more than fairly. Most people feel like they get a good bargain from the Drek-Sable...so they like to trade with us. Only thing we charge dear for is meshing outsiders up with machines. We got to charge high for it- most of the time, they’re meshing up weapons. Don’t want to make that too easy...or they’ll figure they can turn them on us.

If things get dicey, we always got Nocturne. The big guys- and they’re all big to us, ain’t they?- they take care of us when we need someone to cast a more intimidating presence...and we take care of them when they need...well, about anything other than muscle. Now, it ain’t that they can’t do all these things we do, it’s just that we do them better and faster and there’s more of us doing them than they got among their number. So we don’t look down on any of ‘em.
Civilization is about specialization, after all.

Who are our enemies?
Y’mean, who do we get right to the stompin’ with should we meet them? There aren’t that many all-the-time foes. We’ve tangled with everyone the rest of Nocturne has tangled with one time or another- which is pretty much the catalog of known races. But that’s all of a time and place. Consistent-wise, there’s a couple elven races that have some bias against all dark races- so they just tend to be all stupid and combative right from the get-go. No need to hesitate with them. You can recognize those ones by their ears...blue-tipped or with gold veining--or by the arrow through the fellow next to you. Just get right to pelting them with your shooter.

Who are our gods?
Pigeon poop, child! Did you just say that out loud? Don’t be shaming your family that way! Firstways, because you know perfectly well that we Gobbos got first pick in the God lottery- though you best not go telling anyone else about that- you oughter know bettern’ pretending like you don’t know who we picked first- and then who we gots at the end as the price for going first...though we worked that one pretty clever-like by pretending we’d be all so upsettish.

Ugh. You really are acting daft. Fine.

First, there’s Old Dark- he’s the father of the all the dark races. We had first pick...and we had to pick him. We’re team players. Plus, he’s a fine gentleman from way back- full of letters and laws and ways of seeing into the night and the deep and pulling all the good things outta those sorts of places. And...well...though it can get a little confusing with the family trees, it’s nice to have a proven soul-maker among the trio, if you know what I mean.

Somewhere between first and the price, we picked up Klien Mien. Not a bad sort. Loves puzzles, so we get on just fine, us Goblins & Klien Mien. He/she’s a real mind-smacker though. Paradox more than puzzle- and answers that take a long time to understand, even once you’ve seen ‘em. And of course, he/she’s masked. All the Miens are masked. So you know what means- everything’s a riddle and a guessing game and a who-knows-who’s-knocking-at-the-door. But I like to think Klien Mien makes us better meshers...and keeps us on our toes.

And of course, little Miss Price. Heh. Dayza Laughs-In-Light. Looks for all the heavens like the original Elf lady. Was once the great beauty of the Celestial Court of Elfly Kind, I hear tell. She got herself on the wrong side of the stick-something about an ill-timed temper tantrum when the Bureaucracy came crashing through her boudoir with their new rules & regulations. Anyway, someone higher up in the decision-making process made it their mission to see to it that Dayza wasn’t gonna get herself back in cozy and comfortable with her chosen peoples. So, poor thing, as I hear it, they made her wear a horrible visage on the draft day. Of course, none of those elves recognized her, so they picked out their Gods of Apples and Pretty Horses and Shiny Hair like usual and passed her up over and over. She was pretty disheartened.

But it got worse-the last picks were coming up and one of the miffed muckity-mucks who was steamed because the Gobbos got first pick made it clear we had to take the last one. Well, Old Dark always was an optimist and a planner, so he grabbed Klien Mien who he knew was part of Team Goblin by then and went sneaking through the ranks of the leftovers looking for the best of the dross. ‘Course, Klien saw right though Dayza’s visage and after a pantomime that pissed off both Old Dark and Laughs-In-Light, Dark got so pissed, he smacked Klien. Dayza laughed...and well, Old Dark recognized THAT. You know.

So they struck a deal. Of a sort. That they mostly stick to. But first he made sure no one else would pick her first- so that’s why you always see the little parade of skunks behind her.

...but anyway...she’s pretty much a constant pain in the ass on anything pragmatic, but she handles a lot of up-top things and daylight things. Old Dark likes it down below and night anyway. Klien pretty much gives both of them a headache, so they always have something they agree on.

I just wish she’d stop letting those faeries sneak in here to sell their foolish junk.

What is there to do around here?
Okay...I’ve had enough of this horsing around. If there’s one thing about a goblin, we’ve got a knack for busy. Get to it or I’m taking down my whumping stick and finding those pals of yours you’re trying to distract me from noticing. I think I hear some right suspicious clinking from the workshop.

Those boots of yours aren’t doing you any favors! I’m gaining on you and then, kid, I’ll show you what there’s to do ‘round here!