Friday, May 20, 2011

Factions: Fallows

The flower-clad girl hands you a bouquet of pansies plucked from her own flesh, saying "Remember that there is still growth, even in the sterile City." You watch her go, pondering the words of the Fallow you've just encountered. The nature-obsessed Fallows try to return the City to the "simple" lives epitomized by the Rurals out on the Julian Plains.

Archetype: What comes to mind is the "urban shaman" that shows up in much urban fantasy (Shadowrun is a good example). The urban shaman finds a way to value the peculiar form of nature that lives in the city. They have a dog as their totem animal instead of a wolf, cat instead of lynx, rat or pigeon instead of eagle -- you get the point. Instead of power over weather, they might control the sewer system, or slime molds instead of trees. So this is a good model for the Fallows -- some Fallows are direct analogues, with supernatural powers, while others are just trying to care for the urban environment however they can.

Real-Life Inspiration: To me, Fallows are hippies and "green" people, doing their best to bring nature into the urban environment. Backyard gardens, animal shelters, recycling and mulching programs. Some are serene, separated from the stress of city life by their efforts; others are driven, intent on bringing the world back to its roots.

Theme: The Fallows are about harmony with nature, and what they both gain and give up by valuing nature over urban civilization. Fallows live with a certain serenity that comes from the knowledge that they are harmonious with nature. In the real world, "harmony with nature" is just a saying, describing a lifestyle at best. In City of Lives, however, a skilled farmer can increase their crop through the use of magic; a shepherd can sense if their flock's in danger or content; a slaughterhouse worker can gently put animals to sleep before they're slaughtered. "Harmony" would have specific, measurable, benefits. Being in tune with animals and plants naturally removes one from other people and civilized society. The Fallows will be crude, simple, and earnest.

Twist: The irony of the Fallows is, of course, that none of them are actually living the pure and simple life they want -- if they did, they wouldn't be in the City, they'd be out on the Plains. Their attempts to reconcile urban life with a desire for the simplicity of nature is the interesting thing about them, and that duality informs their every action. Some just like the romanticism of "natural living" but won't give up their creature comforts, while others would give anything to leave the City but can't because of responsibilities or finances.

Thanks for reading. Next time, we'll explore the society of scientists known as the Godless!