+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: WL: Tribalism

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    The Trade Post
    Posts
    179

    Default WL: Tribalism

    I want to start a discussion about what it means to be tribal in the Wastelands. Iíll be using information about real world tribes and tribalism for comparisons and Jubal will be an example of a few things, not because I think Jubal is the be all end all but rather because I know my own character better than I know anyone elseís. I like these conversations because we get to have input from such a wide range of people who inhabit many different fields of learning and experiences. Did you know that the Wastelands is home to not only many computer programmers but also an architect, an anthropologist, a doctor of psychology, a couple of veterans, education professionals, an many and varied artists? We all have something to add to the stew that is the Wastelands, which is why these conversations can be so beneficial.

    Firstly, Jubal is a tribal. A lot of people arenít aware of it because heís not prone to long exposition dumps about his past and also because I donít use the Golden Era Hollywood Indian stereotype as the model for his behavior. Most people, when thinking of tribals think of the simplistic, childlike, savage, and ignorant Indian caricature that was the model for ďIndianĒ throughout much of popular culture up until Dances With Wolves and Last of the Mohicans started to evolve the white manís thinking of Indians (note Ė Russell Means, Indian activist and AIM leader voiced deep support for the word Indian rather than Native American. He felt that Columbus was not confused about being in the Indies when he coined the name but was rather commenting that the people were ďin DiaĒ or ďWith God.Ē I use Indian because I am a follower of Means and his philosophies.). Of course, Indians arenít our only basis for WL: Tribals, others include the Tribals from Fallout 2 and New Vegas. The Honest Hearts DLC for New Vegas is a great look at tribal life and warfare and I suggest it to anyone. Some might simply think of Ccindy and then remove the mutant part. But there is another example and one that is the most problematic for me because it gave birth, directly or indirectly to all of the other examples out there Ė Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.

    Whether we realize it or not, that seminal film (and while it might be the least of the three, visually itís had a big an impact on post-apoc aesthetics as Road Warrior, if not more) has really skewed the idea of a Wasteland tribal for pretty much everyone since. Hereís the issue, the tribals are children (visual code for niave), they are hilariously ignorant of the larger world, they can sustain themselves but are helpless in the face of civilization (Bartertown, in this case), and they are almost immediately dominated and ruled by a white man with a gun (Max, representing all that is ďrightĒ about colonialism) who then saves them from their silly backwards way of life (basically, itís the White Manís Burden). I know that I just lost a few people who ran off screaming SJW OMG however, these things do permeate our thinking whether we notice it consciously or not; to quote Red Letter Media ďyou may not have noticed it, but your brain did.Ē So why is this screwed up, isnít that how it went, I mean how can a ďprimitive peopleĒ withstand the technological superiority of civilization? Iíd say ask the Apache, a people so adept at fighting, so vicious in war that do this very day members of their tribe consult US military special forces and the US Army thought to name the deadliest attack helicopter in history after them.

    The truth of tribal societies is that they are only simple on the surface, when viewed through the lens of a person who owns a computer and a car and who flies around in airplanes. Tribal cultures, especially those in North America (which I am primarily versed in) were extremely adept survivors who flourished and were self-sufficient in ways that modern people can only dream about and had technology that exactly suited their ways of life. Tribes are defined by the way in which they work as a unit for the betterment of all people of the tribe, in general they donít fuck each other over. While families exist within the tribe, the tribe itself can be described as something of a larger family of sorts. This isnít an exactly proper statement, but for modern thinking it more or less works (understanding tribes is like understanding the Greek polis, there isnít really a perfect modern analog).

    So, what would a WL: Tribe be like? Well, most real world tribes didnít really have a form of writing and we know that the Wastelands has a limited literacy, so all tribals should all be illiterate and only make picture symbols, right? Iíd say no more than anyone else in the Wastelands, since tribes pass down their skills from generation to the next and if the tribe started as a group of literate people then that skill would be passed on as well assuming that the tribe was formed from a people who had access to reading and writing materials when they formed. The same is true for spoken language as well, while most Wastelanders will, at this point, likely have a form of Pidgin English there is no reason to assume a tribal would speak worse than anyone else. Societies are unlikely to regress, even under duress, from their starting point. While understanding of things that have no use (dead technology especially) would be lost and become fables, the knowledge of the people would endure from generation to generation, with alterations along the way. The knowledge and interest in tools and tech that serve no purpose would be shed as a choice and new technology and ways of accomplishing goals would be learned and integrated into the society, so while ability to manufacture a tire would be lost, the knowledge of how to weave cloth and make clothes would be gained. In my opinion, one of the best examples of a Wasteland tribal exists in the future portions of Cloud Atlas, wherein we see two tribes at war as well as a great pidgin language and a self-sufficient community.

    Now a big exception here would be a tribe which originally formed from a group with no adults or learned people and therefore no knowledge to pass along; a school left to fend for itself, a children-only shelter that opened up years later, so on. They would likely take the shape of the more naÔve and stereotypical tribal, due to originating without any practical knowledge to pass along, having to learn things as they go. I also find it hard to believe a group like that would survive for very long, but thatís a matter for suspension of disbelief.

    This brings us up to the Sand Hippo in the room Ė most likely a majority of people in the Wastelands are tribals of one stripe or another. Without a state or governing body ruling a land, most of us probably came from a tribal culture as defined by the communal cooperation and interdependence as well as the ties to a location (village, canyon, whatever; in Jubalís case it was a civil defense shelter) of origin or nomadic circuit. While there may exist some townships with more modern governance (elected leaders, councils, etc) as well as areas with a more feudal system (rulers passing title to their kin/offspring while others serve them), as yet few people have opted to roleplay characters from places like that (and we are missing out by not doing a WL: Feudal Culture). Most back-stories Iíve encountered have been more in line with tribe originality.

    So thatís some of my thinking on WL: Tribals. We too often underestimate the effectiveness of tribal culture and how well it endured until the outside force of colonialism altered it with the unknown element of intervention. We too often think that tribal = simple (both in culture and in intellect) but in fact tribal people are every bit as complex as any of us. In my opinion, the tribal people of the Wastelands would be the most likely to survive and flourish, simply because cooperation and interdependence will win out over ďevery man for himselfĒ every single time.

    So, thoughts? Anything to add, anything you feel Iím way fucking off base on?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Wastelands/241/174/74
    Posts
    42

    Default

    I'll try to find my old civilizations notes to add, but it'll take some digging. For now, the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) has some decent primers (I say this with major caveats. Much of what's there is very controversial and not at all agreed upon among researchers. There's a lot of biological determinism stuff that does NOT sit well with many). What you want to look for, though, is the term "hunter-gatherer" or one of the many variations thereof. The starting point for describing human social organization generally starts with how people provide food for themselves, then extends out to social structure. Hunter-gatherers are generally described as having a "tribal" social structure, although that term is, as Jubal succinctly points out above, a very loaded term. Foragers is the currently more-accepted term, as foraging provides most of the diet of these cultures. Hunting makes up very little of the calorie intake. Anyway, a few general points until I can find my teaching notes.
    First and foremost, neither biological nor social "evolution" is unilineal. There is no standard or predictable movement from "tribal" to "post-industrial." The idea of unilineal evolution is an absolute misapprehension of what evolution is. Evolution is ONLY response to change in environment. It does not imply increased intelligence, complexity, or any other (pretty bigoted) bullshit.
    Foraging cultures are not "simple," but incredibly complex and sophisticated in all the ways that humans create culture - belief systems, social systems, kinship systems, trade, and anything else you can think of.
    Foraging cultures are by no means all "illiterate," though many have strong oral cultures. Honestly, in terms of RP, an oral culture is MUCH MUCH MUCH harder to successfully RP. For example, the Mahabharata began as an oral story and at 1.8 million words is close to ten times longer than the Iliad and the Odyssey combined. And there weren't rough retellings. The repetitive nature of the text was a mnemonic device, and it's believed that those who told the Mahabharata . . . told it word. for. word. No way I'm down for that kind of memorization in RP!
    There are a lot of different foraging cultures, so lots of different directions to choose in relation to RP in the Wastelands, but a few more short, general points (taken from the HRAF because I'm lazy and sick and can't organize my thoughts in succinct bullet points right now):
    Based on the ethnographic data and cross-cultural comparisons, it is widely accepted that recent hunter-gatherer societies

    are fully or semi-nomadic.
    live in small communities.
    have low population densities.
    do not have specialized political officials.
    have little wealth differentiation.
    are economically specialized only by age and gender .
    it is widely agreed that, compared to food producers, hunter- gatherers fight less (there are LOTS of reasons for this which I can explain in depth if anyone's interested)
    The closer to the equator, the higher the effective temperature, or the more plant biomass, the more hunter-gatherers depend upon gathering rather than hunting or fishing

    I'll do more on this point specifically later, but the tendency in foraging societies is cooperation over violence.
    Last edited by Akiko; 01-09-2015 at 08:02 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    MutantikA
    Posts
    961

    Default

    id like to add a couple of thoughts i had during the last years and that i use as a guideline when playing the witch.

    thers a couple of background things i set for my character like the tribal background.
    the witches mother tribe is located somewear in the southern desert, kinda harsh place to life with a rather lowish techlevel compared to the wastes.
    main tasks of the day to day life might be scavenging food, a social life within the group, and being/appearing strong against outsiders as a way of prefenting open conflict. (them vs. us) seldome trade with outsiders.
    history and and knowledge is transportet from generation oraly, via ritual (not in a religious sence, but like doing x in order y to get result z, always the same way) or in written form (glyphic).
    a great many of information is deliverd in tails, sagas or stories rather than plain information, prety much like in realworld tribal societies. with that swings a kinda religious tone, sometimes more, sometimes les.
    tribemembers are somewhat specialised, thers at least a shamanic "cast" caus thats where the witch orinated from. there are at lest some craftsmen, hunters ect. but i didnt specifie it.

    the grotesks, as the witchs new tribe now being in the wastes is somewhat different.
    its not a grown tribe at all its more of a group of mostly grown up mutants that searched for the safety of a tribe again. if i remember right no two of them were ever from the same tribe. some are even exiled, others are in the wastes for other reasons.
    therefor thers no grown structures yet. no common folklore. even social misunderstanding.
    but "us vs. them" is prefered a lot over "me vs. everyone". so groteks might not be a real tribe, but its like the seed of a tribe (even tho its just like 2 of us prety much for the most part).

    i use pidgin english when a play the witch. pidgins happen usualy when a grown up person tries to learn a new language. they do mistakes. use the grama wrong, use odd words or use pre-/suffixes or gender in a wrong way. it has nothing to do with being stupid or uneducated. its just a thing that happens when someone needs to use a unknown language after a serten age.
    i see the witch as comming from a rather remote place where languages usualy tend to evolve a lot, specialy with no formal written textes. therefor her mothers toung is somewhat different from the wastelandish dialect. she just has trouble using it right or is not aware of the mistakes she does. (like using "me" when "I" would be correct or using "it" as the only 3rd person pronoun, odd wordorder ect.).
    so thats not a tribal thing per se, but it kinda makes sence for someone with a forin background.

    as a shaman kind character the witch is supposed to know thing to keep her tribe healthy. this happens on multible levels. (i kinda saw a doku on that and tried to copy it as good as i remembered)
    first, thers the medicin part. like using plants and minerals in the right way to have serten effects, cutting someone open without killing them. that kind of stuff.
    than thers social health. giving explainations for all kinds of questions. (why do we die? where does the water come from? .. its kinda hard to come up with them on the fly sometimes but its fun nether the les)
    mental health. for example its wrong to kill someone, but how to keep the warrior from being in religious dilema when goung to war? prety much what a cofession would be in modern christian societies.

    things i generaly like about playing a tribal are conflicts or confusions that originate from misunderstanding or diffent viewpoints on special situations. (is it ok to eat the dead? answers might varie depending on the group you grew up in). remote tribes might have harshly different customs or taboos than someone comming from a rather dense populated area.)


    a thought about tribes in the wastes. many of us formed tribes already. there not usualy called that way. but whats a clan, a tradepakt or an allience different from the very origin of a tribe. if characters stick together only logical thing that will happen is a second generation emerging from within that group. and bang we kickstarted a tribe.
    everything that discriminates the "we" from "them" is a marker for being a tribe in that sence.
    there is barely someone in the wastes being totaly alone. some even formed tribes caus of no other reason than not wanting to be the lonely one (best example i can come up with is wasteland loners)
    realy the simplest form being a tribe of just one race, like pure manimal, ghoul or mutant tribes pop up now and then all over the place. common goals, like the tradepost crew or or the mercs. is an other starter. thers just lots of them.
    i think we must distance ourself from thinking tribe has to be primitive. it doesnt have to be stiks and stones (i have to admit tho it has a special touch to it) we live in a world that is build on the ruins of an older world. everything that was discoverd then might be rediscovered. much will be misunderstood or used in new ways. but everything might be part of a tribes knowhow.
    tribel societies are very rich and complicated, just like our industirial societies. in many ways perhaps more deep and delicate.
    Last edited by CCindy; 01-09-2015 at 08:23 AM.
    I eat your Face.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Wastelands/241/174/74
    Posts
    42

    Default

    Other random interesting facts that I LOVE to pontificate on:
    foraging societies historically rarely suffer from disease. part of this is because of low population density.
    foraging societies historically spend very little time devoted to getting food and are thus immensely creative in terms of storytelling and art. most of the caloric needs of foragers can be filled in a few hours per day. WAY less than the current 8 hour US workday. There's little malnutrition or degenerative disease associated with low quality food. I'm talking about modern foragers, not historical foragers, because yes, modern foragers evolved over thousands of years, and it can't be assumed that historical foragers are much like modern ones. For historical foragers, an interesting fact, though. There have been numerous discoveries of Neanderthal skeletal remains of older individuals with degenerative diseases. This means that, 1. they lived long enough to have degenerative diseases, and 2. contrary to leaving behind members that would "slow a tribe down," they actively cared for members of society who could not contribute as much.
    You don't begin to see massive disease spread and malnutrition until the advent of intensive agriculture - the Neolithic Revolution at about 10,000 bc. Intensive agriculture gave rise to cities and increased population density. It's considered to be the single most devastating health event in human history.
    But I digress.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Wastelands/241/174/74
    Posts
    42

    Default

    Excellent points Ccindy makes. To expand on the Pidgin - that's exactly what would happen in the Wastelands, to the point that it would probably become a full on Creole. Pidgins are languages of need and convenience - mostly trade languages when two or more language groups need to engage in economic activities. If these groups have sustained contact, that Pidgin becomes a Creole - a language in its own right with regular rules of grammar and native speakers. The typical example of this is Tok Pisin, a Creole that started as a Pidgin and is now the official language of Papua New Guinea. It's even in the name: Tok Pisin = Talk Pidgin.
    Last edited by Akiko; 01-09-2015 at 08:22 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Apophenia, Malady Bog
    Posts
    1,121

    Default

    I think my really, really vague concept of WL: Tribals is that Tribals live much more in the world as it is now, whereas non-Tribals are, in some ways, focusing far more on what's left of the Old World and trying to hold on to whatever they can. Tribals have a social structure that will support them if, say, they prepare that strange plant wrong, or eat the wrong kind of bug, and that makes it more likely for them to be innovators and experimenters. Like Akiko said - a tribe would care for individuals, even if they "slowed the tribe down." So they get to figure out what works, figure out what doesn't, and pass the information down through rituals and so forth.

    Non-Tribals may not have such strong support, may not pass down what's learned with such signal fidelity, may be more concerned with the individual over the whole. It's like working an office job: people will talk about teamwork, sure, and it's not to your advantage to butt heads with anyone - but there's no structure in place for your whole team to advance; you want that promotion for yourself. Your department is just the group of people you're in, and you have no real unity - just some common goals that are, in fact, SO common that people will push each other out of the way to attain them.

    I honestly think of WL: Tribals as being LESS primitive. Non-Tribals live in what's left of a building uncovered by a sandstorm. Tribals build something. Non-Tribals hope to dig up an ancient shirt that fits them. Tribals make homespun or leather goods or whatever. That "sticks-and-stones" stuff takes a lot more skill and thought than, you know, finding a bunch of scrap and putting them in a Masheen, or living in whatever ruin you can find.

    As a result, I tend to think of Tribals as groups that have been "on the surface" for more generations, and have more experience with the world - that it's not a "regression," but rather the more advanced social structure.

    And I think that's part of why I rankle - and laugh - at the people who want to RP some more technologically advanced group, insisting that we SHOULD have [insert technology here] by now, and in abundance, and they want to have a character who teaches us how to build cars and factories again. It assumes that's our goal: that we're a post-apocalyptic society striving to become industrialized again. That we need - or even want - to be "saved," and that their guns and engines are how to do it.

    (I could comment on the overlap between those people and those who also try to assert the objective and biological 'truth' of certain traditional gender roles, but that might be too far afield.)
    Whatever shit Wastelanders do, however dirty or bloody or batshit random it is, it comes right from our gritty, fucked up little hearts, and that's beautiful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Wastelands/241/174/74
    Posts
    42

    Default

    It assumes that's our goal: that we're a post-apocalyptic society striving to become industrialized again. That we need - or even want - to be "saved," and that their guns and engines are how to do it.
    YES FOREVER. Was just talking to Jubal about how the Wastelands zeitgeist is a sort of reaction to late capitalism. We can't imagine other forms of social structure without the imaginative dismantling of post-industrialization. What comes next? That's the stuff. And yeah, I think that weird tendency to think anyone would strive to become industrialized again is also a misapprehension of what social evolution is.

    (I could comment on the overlap between those people and those who also try to assert the objective and biological 'truth' of certain traditional gender roles, but that might be too far afield.)
    I don't think that's far afield AT ALL. I was just joking about making a sign for my shop that says "NO OUTSIDE WEAPONS AND NO #GAMERGATE"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Masaka's Marsh
    Posts
    239

    Default Off topic, but ...

    http://youtu.be/KpZDh6fSg98

    This was a TV movie from when I was a kid and probably had a large influence on me becoming a hippie
    Again make peace,
    Again give pardon,
    Forgive again and again . . .

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts