Life in the Hofkah Tribe
The world of Skaldras is rough, and the Hofkah have settled in some of the roughest parts. The terrain is rough, largely alternating between harsh mountains and flat barren landscapes. There are occasional old forests dotting the area. The Hofkah picked the location of their village because of the cave system they found and developed (mostly via stone shape) to be used as shelter against the worst elements and against attack. They are a short walk from water—the Blood River feeding the Wounded Lake—and a slightly longer walk from the Forlorn Woods, a tangled old forest that nonetheless provides timber and an alternative hunting ground.
The cave system is carved into the rock of the Heartstone, one of a series of mountainous cliff faces at the base of the Spineback Mountains. The soil is bad, but the tribe has access to druids with access to plant growth (a 3rd level druid spell) to make farming possible. Note that plant growth increases the yield of plants over the next year, so it does not create instant farms.
The tribe of Hofkah has been nomadic in the past, but all hunter/gatherers become sedentary if they find an environment that can support it. That is where they are now. Note that farming via plant growth requires a steading.
There are a few general traits about the people of Hofkah:
- Egalitarianism is central. All people are treated equally. There is a negative attitude toward needless rules and a positive attitude toward group decision making.
- With the tribe being as large as it is, decision making is most often taken up by a sort of council. The council consists of Canas, Soren, Morgan, Rath, and Lucina. This structure is informal however and all opinions are considered.
- There is no surplus of resources to be accumulated by a single member, and mobility rewards a minimization of material possessions. Furthermore, there is no currency. The tribe provides for the needs of its members, and the members meet the needs of the tribe.
- People are satisfied with very little. Individuals members actually tend to work approximately six hours per day because once needs are being met, there is nothing else to be done.
Hunting and Gathering
About a third of the tribe are gatherers. They travel in groups, often with some protection, and forage for edible plants and also fish. When applicable, they harvest crops. More than half the food needs of the tribe are met not by the hunters, but the gatherers.
Roughly another third of the tribe are hunters. Hunting can be a very dangerous task in Skaldras because of the powerful monsters that roam the lands.
To ensure that a hunting party is equipped for the various tasks and threats that need to be handled, the concept of a hunting party exists:
A hunting party is a more or less standard team of individuals that go out to hunt. No one hunts alone, even for small game, due to the dangerous creatures that roam Skaldras. Some dangerous monsters can be avoided, but each team needs to be a match for at least a CR 6 or CR 7 enemy. This means that hunting parties should subsist of at least 5-7 individuals. Specific roles are needed:
- Tracker. This is the person responsible for actually finding the prey. This is especially important if hunting for specific game as opposed to just anything that will feed the Hofkah.
- Spotter. Someone with good eyes which are mostly trained on the skies. They watch the horizon for Death Spires and the skies for wyverns and dragons.
- Lifter. This is someone who will be hauling the kill back to camp. Depending on the game, this responsibility could fall to several individuals, but when the hunting party doesn’t have specific prey in mind, the lifter is either a strong individual with ant haul cast upon him or a spellcaster with ant haul prepared so the capability is there.
- Caster. Whenever possible, at least one member of any hunting team is a spellcaster. Usually, this means it’s a druid, because they have a mix of battlefield control spells for the hunt itself, useful skills like survival and abilities like wild shape, and restorative magic that can save someone from wyvern poison or mortal wounds. In lieu of a druid, other spellcasters may fill this role; in any case, having some potion backup is necessary.
- Slayer. This is someone dedicated to bringing down dangerous prey and protecting the group. This is usually a ranger with animals and dragons as favored enemies, but it can also be a fighter or barbarian. Typically the best combatant in the group, this person is expected to be skilled in both melee and ranged combat, and in dire situations, they are expected to make whatever sacrifice to ensure that the rest of the party lives.
In each case some people can fill multiple roles. The Lifter, Spotter and Tracker are each expected to be good enough with weapons to help bring down the prey.
The Monsters of Skaldras
These are the monsters that are most commonly encountered by the Hofkah.
Dragon, Shadow, Wraith, Forsaken One.
Bear, Wolf, Mastodon, Wolverine, Boar, Ettercap, Hawk, Owl, Owlbear, Pseudodragon, Shambling Mound, Worg.
Ettin, Trolls, Gorgon, Wyvern, Behir, Troll, Yeti.
Aurochs, Bison, Woolly Rhinocerous, Cockatrice, Giant Scorpion, Horses, Rhinocerous, Worg, Antelope, Deer, Elk, and Goat.
A Mastodon is prized for its enormous size. They are about 8-9 feet tall and weigh about 4.5 tons. There are several Mastodon herds that migrate through the area periodically, and they are so strong as a group that even the dragons are only likely to pick one or two off. This also makes them difficult for the tribe to hunt, but they have traditions on how to lure one away from the herd, and then they take advantage of bows and spears to take it down from a safe distance.
Wyverns are prized prey. They are not especially rare. The best hunters are those known for being able to hunt a wyvern on their own, which is exceptionally rare and usually involves both cunning and some way to combat the deadly poison. Neutralize Poison is a Clr 4 / Drd 3 spell. Delay Poison is bard 2 / clr 2 / drd 2 / rgr 1. It only delays the poison for 1 hour / lvl, so most of the time it’s just enough to get back to someone who can really provide a cure. Most accomplished wyvern hunters are rangers with favored enemy (dragons).
The Mists of the Lost
Some nights—about 2 in 5 nights, seemingly at random—a mist appears after the sun sets. People who walk in almost never come back. Very rarely if they go just a short way they may return. The Mists are unpredictable, so this keeps the Hofkah from venturing out at night, at least until after it is clear whether the mist is coming. It will not enter buildings, you are safe on mountains above the mist, and flying creatures can pass over it. The mists give off a conjuration aura. They are not affected by wind, but can be temporarily burned off by fire. They do not encroach on the Tribe, but no is sure why. Mist nights make for dangerous mornings because monsters who roamed into the mist can end up anywhere. Occasionally people turn up this way too; some join the Hofkah.