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Offline manfred

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« on: June 10, 2004, 05:52:02 AM »
Thinking about tribal and nomadic societies, this idea came to me:

Could a relatively advanced society exist, that would still be nomadic?

(Relatively advanced in the medieval sense; moving a smithy or a foundary does not sound exactly like fun, right?)


Such a society would have to exist because of pressing, hard-to-avoid reasons:

The land gives little support
 This country has likely no access to the sea, so no easy fishing. The land is not very fertile. To make at least some settlements possible, "fresh land" would offer some harvest, but already the second year would be less productive, the third hopeless. Simply dividing the land into three or four parts would not be enough, as it would regenerate too slowly (let's say 10-15 years). Maybe the only vegetable/fruit/crop that can feed enough people is too taxing on the land. If hunting is a substitute, after a few years the game would be also too scarce. And once the relatively good land is exhausted, it is time to move on.

Isolation
 While it is likely the advanced technologies were imported from elsewhere, the whole place is probably separated from a "true" civilisation. For instance, food cannot be easily imported, and better agriculture may be already known elsewhere. Alternatively, in these barren lands may begin the civilisation itself, the whole world being behind in development.

Disease and Vermin
 A high concentration of people depletes resources, but attracts other things. If the sanitary systems are lacking, or somehow diseases always catch on after a few years, then better let's go! Insects may be a similar hindrance.

Tradition
 Uncomfortable traditions tend to become forgotten. But if from other reasons it is necessary to be a nomad, a nice tradition can supply honour and even hope to those depressive moments, when you abandon what you have built and achieved, and can only hope your new/old home will be still standing. Legends and promises of deities can also work here.

---

Summary and random thoughts:

 A not very friendly or fertile land, maybe a plateau high in the mountains. There exist probably several "cities" for a community, but only one is occupied at a time. The others are left behind empty, closed as possible against animals and vermin, guards are sent occasionally come here, or small outposts can guard them. Ever found a completely deserted city, that seems to be left only days/weeks ago?

 Being always a bit on the move, a very pragmatic view rules this society. What you can take with you on the "Big Move", is always limited. The society would be based strongly on families, as only a family can own a house in each of the cities. Laws, or at least strong traditions control property rights, so no one can occupy the house of someone else. And having no family is a terrible fate,

 These "cycles" probably control much of their life. Once the Moving into an old city is done, festivities would start, excellent for weddings and having children.

 Hunters/Warriors have several important roles: first kill the vermin that "takes over" any abandoned city very soon, then feed the population, and possibly defend them from the vermin they attract later. And if someone turns up  at the wrong place ("Hey, look! An empty town we can settle in!"), they have still more to do...

---

 Final Note: this setting and its moving nature is not likely to last forever (as advances in technology or magic will break it), but could certainly surprise travelling adventurers. A possible step between the nomadic and settled society.

 Please be aware that this is just an experiment on: A and B seem to exclude themseleves, how would it look if not?
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Offline Araith

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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2004, 12:53:45 PM »
Hmmmm...You can't have nomads that move from city to city, then their just people who move a lot. Nomads wander the lands, they CHOOSE to leave behind such technology. Though they do use it, most nomads wouldn't have a trade they are particularly good at. I don't thing it works so much as nomads....maybe as a different kind of people. Nomads are wanders, not people who go from point a to b to c, then back to a.
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Offline MoonHunter

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« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2004, 02:44:17 AM »
See, it is not just me!

It seems what you want is totally contridictory on a definitional level.  But, having enough mystic training I can resolve any duad.

Mystic Foragers:
These people could have a very advanced society that they have to take with them when they have used up all the resources in the world.  If manna, the power of magic, is their resource, then you can get a very interesting society indeed.  Small cities could be packed up, and transported to the next node (concentration of mystic energy), and be unpacked.
(If these people learned a little restraint, they would stop depleting the local environment and be able to live in one spot... but that is a moral lesson you might find in a campaign.

Giganto Riders:
These nomads have domesticated a variety of Saurians.  Some of these are smaller bison/ horse sized critters. The main ones are HUGE plant eaters. In addition to being beasts of burden, they provide protection from all terrestrial threats (if they don't like something they simply squish it).   It is upon the backs of these critters that they people live.  Each one being a "block" of their city/ village. So a tribe will have dozens of smaller critters and have their village on the back of several gigantos.  Since these things can strip a forest bare in short order, the riders are always moving.  

Survivors:
An advanced society is undergoing some serious changes.  Certain groups are litterally being pushed out of their cities/ towns.  These nomads have packed their wagons/ RVs and have hit the roads.  They can't go to the next down, because the group/ force that pushed them out of their cities/towns are in every town and city.  These Survivors travel the lands between, occasionally stopping by a town or city, to pick up new things, do a little trading, and so on.  But most of the time they are on the road.

Organian options:
These people developed the most advanced society the world had ever seen.  Then, almost at once, they just disappeared.  Some of them just waunder the world. They have that otherworldly, I don't care too much about this realm sort of vibe going.  They are a wise, friendly, and peaceful folk, who wear simple garbs and used less technology or magic than is the norm.  Yet despite the dangers of the world, they seem untouched.  While normally they do little to impact the world around them, every now and again, they will reach behind themselves and pull out some artifact and "BeZAP" the problem at hand, be it a monster, a drought, and impending disaster, or just an out bridge.  

There are more, but this is all I can think of right now.
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Offline Iain

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« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2004, 04:21:32 AM »
I'm not so sure that it is contradictory - just quite unlikely. Here are my thoughts.

What could they be advanced in? It would be possible to have an advanced society which, though it didn't know much about building huge stone monuments, could still be ahead of the rest of the world in some areas. What could these be?

1) Advanced mathematics and astronomy. There's no reason why you need to be city based for this. The society would be able to predict eclipses, transits, etc. whereas to the rest of the world these were just signs from the gods. On a more practical note, in mediaeval times many of the larger siege engines were constructed on site (as they were too bulky to easily move around). The construction of huge siege engines (and aiming them) requires quite a lot of technology and also mathematics. Imagine an apparently barbarian nomad horde drawing up in front of a city with large high walls. Instead of attacking and being slaughtered, most of the horde go off in to the woods. A couple of weeks later, huge mangonels and trebuchets are being wheeled out and the city is beginning to panic.

2) Magic, providing your magic is not based too heavily on books and devices. Whatever type of magic there was, there is no reason why these nomads shouldn't be very advanced at it. Maybe they teach this willingly to those who come to learn, or maybe they refuse to share their knowledge, telling it only to the very few who manage to get accepted in to their society.

3) Selective breeding. Their horses may be the best in the world.

4) Music, culture, etc. Instead of going with the usual primitive instruments/oral tradition of story telling etc., maybe they have a very literate culture (this would probably need them to have some kind of a base where they could deposit all their books/scrolls - sort of like a library!).

5) Medicine. Basically, any skills which rely on knowledge rather than bulky equipment they could be advanced in.
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Offline Araith

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« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2004, 10:02:51 AM »
I can see literally 'advanced' nomads, like a man walking around with a palm sized machine that makes food, but none of this them switching citys, that doesn't work if it's nomads.
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Offline EchoMirage

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strip - mining
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2004, 06:39:22 AM »
My dear, see Starcraft and their Terrans ... they approach a world, mine all minerals, destroying the environment in the process, and then, their homes just lift off, and fly away...they have power suits that allow them to recycle waste and water, their homes carry the thinkers and children around...

For fantasy, imagine homes that are lifted by enchantments, temples, libraries and dwellings riding the winds, carrying the livestock and populace to more fertile pastures, and all their knowledge with them ... when they arrive, they just erect new fortifications and continue working.
Their mounts? Giant egales and wyvern perhaps.
Workers? Golems. Water? Draining the clouds.

When they arrive, they swarm over the land, and leave again - in two weeks, a year, a decade. When enemies they cannot face threaten, they lift off, perhaps leaving some nastiness behind, or dropping it on their heads...
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Offline ephemeralstability

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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2004, 04:53:08 PM »
Mmmm...mangonel. Nice word. To build upon what Iain has said, I'd stress that the Roman army was (to some extent) nomadic: when on campaign they would march for a day, set up camp and then march again. The camps were sometimes very elaborate and set up quickly: I can imagine this sort of society becoming very good at felling trees, erecting palisades and digging ditches.

Admittedly the Romans had cities in which the technologies would be developed. And I do not think a nomadic society would become competent astronomers capable of predicting eclipses: this does require enormous precision in the measurements and could only be achieved with a large fixed observatory. I would agree that they would become proficient at navigation by the stars and making quite accurate measurements on horseback at speed!

There is the rather obvious area where nomads would be technologically superior to other societies: transport. A group of nomads would be able to make a vehicle (wagon or cart) skilfully and reliably in a day. They'd know the types of wood which were lightest, most supple and best to use.

Perhaps there's a different paradigm in which to view the nomads where they are technologically advanced relative to the world around them precisely because they are the facilitators to advancement. Having travelled so far they naturally pick up technologies from different countries and take them on to other lands. Different inventors find out about each others' work through the nomads (there's no other form of communication) and are always eager to share their latest ideas/inventions with the nomads in order to have them spread.

ephe!
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Offline Araith

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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2004, 08:33:33 PM »
Once again your misusing the term nomad. A nomad is a wanderer with no fixed home. Really, flying around in your own castle, no matter how often you move, that castle is your home. So really your thinking of something else, though it could be used if thought out more, but nomad can't belong there.

Although I can still see, nomads who are advanced, walking around with 'equipment' that is highly technological. So they would still be wanderers with no home.
19:43:31 [Shadoweagle] Heya - your not moderator anymore, Araith?

19:43:40 [Araith] Nope

19:43:50 [Araith] I 'accidentaly' Deleted the site.

19:43:56 [Araith] So I got demoted.

Offline EchoMirage

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« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2004, 02:17:36 AM »
As i understand, in the US there are a lot of people who pack their homes on trucks, and drop them off elsewhere, link up with a gas and water pipeline, with electricity and the internet, and then move again.

How small must a home be for you to no longer be considered a structure? Nomads USED wagons and carts. A large cart is still nomadic? What if it unpacks into a large structure concealed within, ten times as large as the wagon? Still nomadic. What if it does not unpack, what if it moves but still is ten times as large as a wagon? Still nomadic. What if it flies and is ten times as large as a wagon? See?

The term NOMAD implies by the changing of locatrion, by the movement of your home compared to the surface of the world. It is NOT restricted by what you carry along. If a tribe lives on boats and visits different coastlines for food and water, resources and new genetic information,they are nomads. Even though some of the ships are large. And if they tie the ships together? Still they are nomadic.
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Offline manfred

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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2004, 06:57:55 AM »
And the winner is... Iain! *cue standing ovations*

The point of this mental exercise was not so much in debating nomadic cultures, but more inventing something new to feed our fantasies, which it did. As I said: "Please be aware that this is just an experiment on: A and B seem to exclude themseleves, how would it look if not?"

Quote from: "Iain"
I'm not so sure that it is contradictory - just quite unlikely. Here are my thoughts.
Thats' the right approach!


*gone harvesting ideas of others, and perhaps creating some of his own*
Do not correct me, I know I am wrong.