GURPS · Town Creation

Creating Halewater IV: Poor Folk

In my last three posts I’ve been creating the little hamlet of Halewater – a hometown for a hypothetical fantasy PC.

I’ve determined that the poorest areas in town have a lot of internal conflict, and today I’d like to find out what this conflict is about.  I’m going to do this by creating the relevant NPCs.

So let’s head over to the people system and get started!  Remember that this is mostly a random process, which makes it quite interesting for me.  I wonder what’s going to happen?

Ok, here goes…

One of the Poorer People in Town

(Rolling, rolling…)

  • Name: Yeira Oaksun
  • Role: Beggar
  • Situation: Typically arguing with others
  • Bodily appearance: Scarred skin
  • General appearance: Practical clothing
  • Memorable mannerism: Keeps hands concealed (perhaps in sleeves or pockets)
  • Interesting fact: Has a phobia (hmmm… what should her phobia be?  As luck would have it, the net happens to have a random phobia generator… handy! (Generating…) “Glossophobia – fear of speaking in public”.  Fair enough!
  • Hope or Fear: Afraid of violence

Wow!  That one came out really well.  I wanted to create a poor NPC who was involved in some kind of dispute, and the random rolls gave me “beggar”, “arguing with others,” “scarred skin”, and all the rest.  I didn’t fudge them at all.  Sometimes the dice gods smile!

Yeira is a beggar who tries to eke out a living in Halewater.  She’s lived a very hard life, and bears the scars to prove it; as a result, she lives in fear of physical violence.  She also has a terrible fear of being the center of attention for a large group of people – in her experience, nothing good ever comes of that – so she tries to make herself scarce whenever there’s more than a few people around.  But one-on-one, she can be argumentative, even fierce: she knows how to stand up for herself; indeed, her awful life situation has often forced her to harangue others for her daily bread.

My question now: is Yeira’s presence really enough to justify saying that the poor areas of town are defined by “internal conflict?”  Just one argumentative beggar?

Hopefully the next NPC will help to resolve this…

Another of the poorer people in town

(Rolling, rolling…)

  • Name: Benrud Atyeo
  • Role: Mendicant priest
  • Situation: Typically welcoming of strangers
  • Bodily appearance: Slack-bodied
  • General appearance: New clothes
  • Memorable mannerism: Scowls
  • Interesting fact: Knows more powerful people than you might expect
  • Hope or Fear: Afraid of his friends

Oh, interesting!  This is shaping up really nicely – I can definitely see the conflict here.  It’s obviously a conflict over who gets to beg in Halewater.

On one side of the conflict, we have the very poor, like Yeira, who beg in order to survive. She’s difficult to get along with, but she’s in genuine need.  On the other side we have religious types like Benrud, who have taken a vow of poverty, and thus live by begging for alms.  Benrud is easier to get along with – he’s “welcoming of strangers”; he wants to welcome them into the faith, of course – but his need is not at all as dire (see those “new clothes”?).

Right – now to describe Benrud.

Benrud Atyeo is a mendicant priest: he has taken a vow of poverty, and he lives largely by begging for alms.  He’s a flabby, slack-bodied fellow whose habitual scowl of disapproval quickly turns into a broad, welcoming smile whenever he meets a new potential recruit.  Benrud, is poor, but he’s not exactly destitute: one sign of this is the fact that he’s been able to afford a fresh new cassock, the better to represent the dignity of the Faith.   The truth is that Benrud is surprisingly well-connected: he has close ties to other, more powerful members of his Order, back in one of the larger towns, and he is confident that he could fall back on their care if things became really dire for him here in Halewater.  Why is he in Halewater at all?  Well, his friends back in the Order know certain secrets about him, and he lives in fear of those secrets coming out.  It’s better, he thinks, to be elsewhere…

Benrud believes Yeira is just a lazy woman who is leeching away money that would otherwise be donated, as alms, to the Order – i.e., to him.  Naturally Yeira disagrees.

Right!  That’s enough for today, I think.  It turns out that the conflict in the poorer areas of town is over begging rights, but also in a sense about class and religion.  Interesting!

Next time, I plan to create the intriguing Sage, Witch, or Wise person who lives in the house just south of Halewater…

EDIT: And I did!  But there are two of them….


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