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D&D 5E Fantasy Appalachia


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Cool thing I learned from "The History of the English Language" (listened to on a cross-country drive a few years ago):

Some of the grammatical oddities in Appalachia are actually just archaic, as opposed to "wrong". Some of the examples given (I wish I could remember them) are verbs that were originally strong verbs (variant past tense form) which in the rest of the English speaking world have become (dare I say "devolved") into weak forms with -ed past tense forms. But in Appalachia some people still use the original strong form, which to outsiders sounds like poor grammar.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I've been reading Paul Bunyan (the Wadsworth version) to my boys recently, and he's actually from Maine.
I know the Appalachian Trail runs into Maine, but it's not usually considered part of Appalachia from a cultural/historical perspective.
Well thats one version, most other versions reckon he hails from either Minnesota or Michigan. If he was Real then theres a suggestion that the real person he was based on might in fact have been from Quebec - a 7ft tall head of a Canadian Lumberjack team :)
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
As a current highlands resident and foothills native (Piedmont to you people), I shudder to think how many bad stereotypes there will be; either in the hypothetical campaign or this thread.
I once did a ‘fun’ study on the Beverly Hillbillies and was surprised to learn that there were Appalachia residents who thought it was perpetuating offensive stereotypes. 19th Century Appalachia is an interesting study in the conflict between independent rural farmers who lived on the land and the lowland urban industrialist who wanted the resources and then created the ‘backward inbred’ stereotypes in order to influence Government (and public) perception.

I suppose if you were to highlight that conflict you could avoid the worst of the stereotypes
 



Voadam

Legend
Goodman Games The Chained Coffin presents a setting very much this, inspired by Manly Wade Wellman's John the Balladeer stories alongside folklore of the region. I'd highly recommend both the RPG product and the books that inspired it.
I agree, I haven't read Wellman but the Chained Coffin was a fun setting/module read and the author credits Wellman. And OSR in general is pretty close to 5e so conversions are fairly easy if you don't go with Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.
 

nevin

Adventurer
On another thread, it got me thinking. an Appalachia game could have serious potential. The Hat Fields and the Mccoys, giants (that might be where Paul Bunyan originally came from), witches, and trickster anthropomorphic rabbits in a keep on the borderlands environment could have serious potential. then you add the cultural mixing of the north, south, African mythology, and Cherokee and other tribes and whammo, a seriously unique environment. However, feel seriously underqualified in this environment so throwing it out there to see where it leads.
is this fantasy with magic or is it no magic?
 

Zsong

Explorer
I’m doing this game right now set in rural West Virginia. I made up town similar to Grenville. We use a combination of the rules of call of Cthulhu, runequest, stormbringer, and magic world. It’s not quite horror, more weird west with mothman stuff and some ufo’s thrown in. And I’m from the back woods of West Virginia. We been having a blast with it. And it probaly breaks so many big city social rules I couldn’t describe it here. We even have ninja’s because there is a college in West Virginia owned by the Japanese. So we have ninja exchange students too. We started calling it rural arcana in contrast to urban arcana
 

nevin

Adventurer
I'm from the very southern end of Appalachia.

Some things I would consider essential to capturing the mood of the region, in a D&Dish fantasy context, in my opinion, would be:
•The forests are dense. This is something that people who haven't been to the region won't understand. The trees aren't often very large (poor soil), but they grow nearly as close together as grass in a field. Between the thick foliage and the mountainous terrain, a laden party of adventurers on foot will be lucky to travel 4 miles in a day.

•Everything is isolated. In a fantasy setting with no highways or telephones, you can really play this up. Towns are far apart from each other. There are homesteads sprinkled across the mountainsides many miles apart, sometimes populated by families who aren't aware of their nearest neighbors' existence.

•Hospitality is important. It's not like Deliverance. If strangers come to your door, you let them in, you feed them, and you find out what their story is. There aren't going to be a lot of inns for the party to rest in between towns. They'll need to either camp out or rely on the generosity of whatever locals they meet.

•That said, don't abuse your host's hospitality. Everyone is armed. In real life, that means a lot of people enthusiastic about the 2nd Ammendment. In a fantasy world where you probably don't have guns, I might have some NPC's who are proud of their old family sword or axe.

•Farming sucks. Poor soil. Hunting and fishing are comparatively efficient ways to feed your family.

•There are a lot of caves, and the caves get pretty big. There are also ruins, of a sort: abandoned homesteads, bootleg distilleries, and mines. Plenty of places that could become dungeons in a world with monsters.

Hear hear! The "i" is silent and the "t" is invisible.
Chestnut trees are everywhere and a good source of carbohydrates and they feed the wildlife. nutritional profile similar to potatoes. Chestnut trees are huge, grow fast and are hard wood so good hardwood with a profile similar to oak is readily available. Hospitality for the Scots and Scott-irish would be very much the once I invite you into my house i'm responsible for you. But you better behave. Respect for individualism would be important among them as well. they would be proud Brave , and willing to die to protect family and Honor.

The english settlers would be in more typical towns and cities with forts scattered throughout the area, with either english or american troops depending on the time frame.

If it's fantasy that's where it could get really interesting. do the Celtic gods exist? Cause the border tribes of scotland weren't that into Christian religion, that's part of what did them in. But if they have the old religions you get druids , is there a catholic church and are they burning witches and mages? If so a lot of mages might be living with hill folk or indians. Indians of that area, Choctow, chickasaw, Cherokee, were fairly civilized they farmed , hunted and generally got along people that wanted to get along with them. If thier gods exist and they have shaman's and mages who would probably be looked on as people who had been blessed by the gods, they might be holding on better than they did in real history. there is no one african culture so I'd recommend looking at West Africa as a lot of the slaving was done there. Pick out a couple of the tribes who's religion and myths you like and work them in.

The fey side would be a horrible mixed up mess, with African spirits, indian fey who are often confused as spirits of the land, fey brought by the english, scotts and irish. You'd probably have as much conflict on the fey side of things as in the real world.
 

Adding to the Goodman Games/Dungeon Crawl Classics talk, I played in its Shudder Mountain campaign, inspired by Appalachian folklore. Had a damn good time. It's not my area of expertise, but if you're looking for D&D-like material that's done it, here you go.
 

Eltab

Is this a moon, or is it a space station?
As a current highlands resident and foothills native (Piedmont to you people), I shudder to think how many bad stereotypes there will be; either in the hypothetical campaign or this thread.
The fun part will be doing like the old TV show Beverley Hillbillies: subvert everybody's stereotypes of each other. The "dumb" hillbillies get the better of the "smart" city slickers and confound their schemes in most episodes.
 

Zsong

Explorer
The fun part will be doing like the old TV show Beverley Hillbillies: subvert everybody's stereotypes of each other. The "dumb" hillbillies get the better of the "smart" city slickers and confound their schemes in most episodes.
The thing is while some people are ranting that Beverly hillbillies is a strereotype we use characters like that in our own stories. Anyone ever watch hee haw.
 


Zsong

Explorer
Yes ! Why were there skits between the singing? (Although the recurring skits with a 'theme song' were funny.)
Lol. That still my favorite show. I watch it and it reminds me of growing up on the farm in Calhoun county West Virginia. We would sit on the porch with neighbors after bailing hay or doing whatever and play the banjo and do some songs. Good times.
 

Retreater

Legend
The adventure I'm currently playtesting is inspired by that region. Even though I live in the western part of Kentucky, I think it's a region not explored often enough in gaming (or fantasy in general). Mammoth Cave was pretty inspirational to the game design (I think I remember Gygax mentioning that), even if the Cave region is not quite in that area.
 

Please for all that is good and holy, just promise me that you will pronounce it properly: "apple-at-cha."

Sincerely,

An Appalachian Native
I promise to only describe this using text so you don't have to deal with my western canadian accent. :D

Well thats one version, most other versions reckon he hails from either Minnesota or Michigan. If he was Real then theres a suggestion that the real person he was based on might in fact have been from Quebec - a 7ft tall head of a Canadian Lumberjack team :)

Between Andre the Giant and Robert Maillet, I think I can make a valid arguement that all giants speak french. :p

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The fey side would be a horrible mixed up mess, with African spirits, indian fey who are often confused as spirits of the land, fey brought by the english, scotts and irish. You'd probably have as much conflict on the fey side of things as in the real world.
It could be very much a spirit war where everybody set up traditions mainly so it doesn't go out of control.

(got a serious soft spot for aunt nancy so don't be surprised if she ends up being a big time player).
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other things recommended by others:

old gods of appalachia podcast

and of course fallout 76. :p

is this fantasy with magic or is it no magic?
I want witches (good and bad) so yes to magic.

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and since one of the things will be repackaging american myth, I know one person whom will be strategically reskinned.

hit the music.

 
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Eltab

Is this a moon, or is it a space station?
If you want to move beyond the "Indian Wars" plotline, off the west (or northwest) edge of the campaign setting map lives a highly-respected leader who is part Tecumseh, part Sequoyah, and part Longfellow's Hiawatha.
For the word play, I would base him in Indian-a.
 

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