An Overview of the Tuje
This is for an upcoming adventure that exists in roughly the same world as my previous adventure, "A Gathering Storm", and like that game will be written for both 5e and 13th age, so I'm trying to keep it somewhat system agnostic. I will probably make more than one thing in this setting.
What exists in the world
I started by thinking about some basic facts about this world, implied by the first adventure.
Gods: Gods are often local, and closely tied to the place where they live. When the god of a village is happy the crops grow. Offerings to the god of the west wind make the west wind blow, offerings to the god of the great market brings success in business.
They are not human, and do not walk among humans or take a physical form, and can be hard to understand. But they can be killed, and within them is immense power that can be unleashed, though to do so has permanent consequences on the world and is a truly evil act.
Monastic orders: The word is large and fragmented, but there are various types of organizations that exist across borders and kingdoms. One type is monastic orders. They usually have limits on the worldly power they will hold, making them non-threatening to the powerful, and while they are associated with the gods, they concern themselves with other matters as well, such as the preservation and pursuit of knowledge, healing the sick, etc. In this world, monastic orders are not segregated by gender.
International trade: Of course, like on earth, goods travel an immense distance. Even if nobody personally walks from one end of the continent to the other, things make their way. A location on such a trade route is certainly important.
A History of Tuje
Nobody remembers exactly why the god of Letatuje, the land of the Tuje, was killed. Perhaps Tuje’s enemies in the war did it, or perhaps the priests or wizards did in a desperate attempt at victory. But now Letatuje is a wasteland where no crops will bear fruit and the beasts of the field will bear no young.
Most of the Tuje migrated into neighbouring kingdoms, but some stayed. Tuje’s wealth came from controlling a critical trade route, and that trade route didn’t go away. And to many, despite it all, it was still home. They traded horses for enormous bird-like creatures with jaws like wolves, they built outposts and shelters and even a market town in the wastes.
Most of the Tuje speak Taratuje and Common (or equivalent), and many Tuje pride themselves on their ability to speak many languages of the surrounding areas. The old Kingdom of Tuje was a cosmopolitan place.
Most Tuje live in surrounding realms these days. The borders of the Tuje kingdom were always a bit vague, extending beyond the actual home of the god, and many of the nearby kingdoms speak languages that are mutually intelligible with Tuje. Some of these places were rivals and enemies of the kingdom of Tuje, but so much time has passed that this no longer matters. But this will be described in a future blog post, perhaps, as this is mostly about Letatuje.
There was once a system of nobility but that fell apart with the fall of the kingdom, along with many of the more formal social structures. A town, outpost, or even just a stretch of land might be owned by a clan, which vary in size from hundreds of members to a few dozen. Everyone claims descent from the Tuje nobility; there are no records. Each clan has a de facto leader, usually one of the elders, or perhaps several of them deciding things together, and there are agreements and a sort of shared code of law between the clans. If there is a dispute between clans, a third clan is asked to mediate. Sometimes a great council is called and the heads of the clan all meet.
Crimes are usually punished by exile. If the individual is generally known to the Tuje, their name will be circulated among the clans; otherwise they might be branded so they can't sneak back in. Sometimes someone might be asked to leave for some time, usually a year, usually if a dispute gets out of hand. Extreme crimes, such that they might be considered a danger to anyone in the world, are punishable by death, but this is rare.
To be a member of a clan, you don’t need to be related by blood. In fact, because of the curse, having biological children is difficult without leaving Letatuje for some time. You can join a family by marrying in, but most commonly by adoption. Adoption can happen as a child, but also as an adult. This usually happens after joining the Sentinels (see below) and deciding to stay.
The Tuje Sentinels
Each clan has its own branch of the sentinels, although the rules are similar, and decided upon mutually before anyone can remember. They ensure that visitors to Letatuje are safe, often guiding them for a fee, they maintain a series of outposts, and they make sure the ruined land is not further destroyed. Many Tuje spend at least some of their life in the Sentinels. They generally do not deal with the monsters that live in the wastes more than necessary, and rightly consider it a foolish thing to do, preferring rather to avoid them, but will not stop adventurers from doing so.
They wear large-brimmed hats to protect against the sun and usually ride dinosaurs, since there are no more horses, giving a distinct silhouette visible from a distance. They usually fight with bows, arrows, lances and javelins, and wear light armour, and can outmanouever most other creatures. Short swords and daggers are secondary weapons.
It’s a dangerous life, but strangers still often join. After some years, when they speak Tuje fluently and are familiar with the customs, they will likely be adopted. At this point, they forswear any former family ties and may even take a new Tuje name. There are many reasons why one might want to flee to another country and start a new life. However, if someone is fleeing justice for some heinous crime and do not change their behaviour, the sentinels have a very high standard of behaviour and strict punishments.
Tuje and Religion
Many Tuje follow other gods now. Every place has their own gods. Also, there are other religion-adjacent organizations, like The Infinite Scroll, that many have joined. The mission of The Infinite Scroll in particular lines up well with the current situation in Letatuje. Knowledge needs to pass through the wastes, and knowledge was likely lost and hiding in the ruins.
Some still leave offerings to the dead god. To them, this is part of what it means to be Tuje. Their god is dead, and their empire with it, but there is still power in what you do together, and like the vines that grow around the tree and stay long after the tree has rotted away, the world goes on. There are also some small gods that remain here and there. There is one in the great market.
There are things in the wastes that are not exactly gods. It is best not to worship them, but people do, and sometimes it even turns out all right.
Tuje and Food
The Tuje tend to eat a diet rich in meat and eggs of birds and reptiles. Mammals are not prevalent, and some Tuje feel a bit uncomfortable about eating them. Most conventional grains do not grow and need to be shipped in, although there are a few plants that still grow and are edible – generally, plants that are drought-tolerant and also have not been significantly bred from their original form, and are thus immune from the curse. Large fruit and leafy greens are a luxury, though some small berries still grow. Likewise, alcohol is a rare luxury.
However, some of the plants that grow produce rare dyes and medicines.
The Infinite Scroll
These are the monks who appeared in A Gathering Storm. Their mission is to preserve all knowledge. The Infinite Scroll in question is every sentient being, who in their minds can hold all knowledge that can be known. They place a lot of emphasis on memorizing information, as not everything is written down, or can be safely written down, but the written word is also very important to them.
They are especially interested in Letatuje because it is the only known way to cross the mountain ranges. Thus, Letatuje must stay safe. Many of the Tuje have joined as well. The idea that Letatuje is still a critical part of the world has an appeal.
The Merchant’s Guild and Other Merchants
They represent some of the merchants, but not all. Mostly those from the realms immediately on either side of Letatuje. There is tension with unaffiliated merchants. Being part of the guild gives credibility, but costs money, and they also impose their own rules on what can be traded. The Tuje by and large do not care about the Merchant Guild’s rules and are wary of them exerting too much power, but otherwise tolerate them.
What You Might Find In The Wastes
There are a lot of old things of value. However, the Tuje will not be happy if you loot indiscriminately. They will, however, often be interested in paying for you to recover things of historical or cultural significance, especially writing. Anything else should be cleared with the authorities before making off with them.
A lot of minor magic items they don’t care much about, especially ones that basically are only used by adventurers, as long as you clear it with them first. They might ask for a small tax to be paid if you take them. However, if someone takes a valuable and significant artifact, they will hunt them down – or maybe hire you to do it for them.
Usually they have a cache of non-perishable food, deep wells dug, a tower with a lookout, a temporary shelter, and a scroll log for the sentinels. Anyone can use them if needed, but you’re expected to arrange to have them resupplied or at least tell them you’ve used them.