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D&D 5E Fantasy Appalachia

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
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.

If you're just doing a "non-coastal America" pastiche though, he's fine. The version we're reading has several unusual monsters:
The Agropelter (hides in trees, throws a club to kill people)
Gumberoo (round, very hard skin, carnivorous, always hungry - but extremely vulnerable to fire)
Whirling Whimpus

SACRILEGE! Paul Bunyon is Minnesotan. Now, there are some weak claims about him being from Wisconsin or Michigan, and he may have spent some time in the Dakota's. I can humor such mistakes with a polite smile. But Maine? Nonsense!

You have me snorting at such a claim with the power of Babe the Blue Ox in full rage.
 

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Azzy

KMF DM
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.
Check out the maps at this seller, they might be fitting for your campaign.
 


ccs

41st lv DM
My advice: Don't let anything in your campaign world be recognizable as a homage to something specific in the real world. You can use real world lore for inspiration, but always mix it heavily with something else to make sure it is distinct and does not end up being criticized for insensitivity. You may still get it, but you can say you are intentionally distancing it, at least.

Well, that rules out playing D&D.
 







Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Folklore:
During a nasty strike at a coal mine, somebody threw a bunch of lumber in a mine cart, set it on fire, and pushed it down the entrance. He did not burn the timbers that held up the entrance nor cause a collapse; he set a lesser seam of coal on fire.
The blaze is now more like a slowly-travelling smoulder. Once in a while, here or there, oxygen can get through the covering soil into the rock below. Then steam shoots out of the ground for a while, or black smoke rises from a wild field. One time, the fire passed below a small pond and created a hot spring. People who live nearby know that if you dig a hole and the stones / rocks you pull out of the ground are warm to the touch - stop digging !
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I'm a bit of sucker for modern-era zombie stories. I suspend my disbelief on the reality of classic Romero-style zombies and then love to think about how communities would react. Which is why I enjoyed World War Z (the great book, not the terrible movie).

I think setting a zombie apocalypse game in Appalacia would be fun. You have many communities in the region known for individualism, familism (strong family ties may be a more positive characterization), private property/love of land, limited government, strong but decentralized religious beliefs, and a strong sense of justice. You also have a strong gun culture in the region.

I could see a game where you are a family or small Apalachian community trying to survive a zombie apocalypse.
 


Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
As a Kentuckian I have this to offer....

Most modern views of the area are looking at the history of the settlers, not those living in the area previously. I actually don't have a lot of interesting facts to share about the tribes who lived in the mountainous area, but just west of the region there were mound building cultures. I'd suggest a quick dive into what that could add as distant inclusion in your game.

As mentioned previously, the area is thickly forested, even today. The main methods of travel for your campaign would probably be rivers, not roads. Also rivers in the pre-dam building era tended to have extremes of water level. Flats and sandbars keep all but the shallowest draft boats from being used on the rivers. I'd suggest a quick look at flatboats and how they differ from "normal" boats.

Because of the lack of roads, there was a lot of call for people to trailblaze an overland route from the current edge of civilization to a town established on the river. This was less an exercise in finding a general direction to travel and more about finding a path through the mountains that carts and wagons could navigate.

Finally, if you are VERY unfamiliar with the Appalachian versus Rocky mountains, there are NO bald rock snow covered peaks like one would traditionally picture a "mountain" looking like. There are lots and lots of ridges cutting between heavily forested peaks that aren't high enough to collect snow.
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
Something I’ve remembered being taught about the region, there seems to be a lot of mystery around causes or origins of their bald mountains. While not rocky outcropings, the bald mountains of Appalachia were often grassy and used for grazing, especially because during the summer it was cooler. I remember being taught it was also believed to be less prone to malaria.

A fantasy Appalachia, to me, could make a great adaptation of this theme, going as far as putting towns and cities atop the mountains, with many river valleys sources of danger and disease really accentuating a points of light setting.
 

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.
Not sure if it has been mentioned, but Soft White Underbelly has tons of interviews with people from Appalachia. They could be used as templates for NPC's.
 

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.
I second all this. Hike the trail and you realize how many nooks, crannies, caves, hidey-holes, valleys, streams, and every geographical feature exists in droves, outside of bald mountain tops.
 

Besides the fact that in my universe, the narrator of such a product would be Jim Cornette, he goes into this odd speech about the Woolyworm.

I honestly have never heard of such a thing, but so putting it in. :D
 


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