Thursday, February 26, 2009
Travel in Valley of Blue Snails
Travel in Valley of Blue Snails is usually a communal affair if one if going outside of the immediate area. Even when commoners walk to work it is usually in groups for safety. Safety from robbers, pilgrims, spirits, monsters and other malefic factors. Those who travel by themselves are seen as deviants and up to no good. Exceptions would be hermits, holy men, bards and the insane.
Commoners could expect to walk 10 miles or more per day to work and back. On rare occasions a communal wagon will be used or a donkey. Commoners almost never have a proper horse. They rarely travel more than a day or two from their home. They will on some occasions go to neighboring villages for weddings, festivities or to trade and this is usually a season event at best. The exception are Halflings which routinely wander in large groups of commons living a more nomadic lifestyle.
Nobles most often ride, and stable-craft is a serious respectable trade. Dwarven nobles usually ride carts pulled by Coelodontas, a sturdy but small variant of a rhino with a clubbed horn. Elven nobles travel far and wide, but usually do so on foot unless it is well outside of the deep woods in which they are acclimated too. Nobles usually travel more often than commoners and consider it one of the things that separates the two. Many travel simply to travel, and will pick any mundane reason to do so.
Those traveling from village to village or realm to realm could expect several options depending on the location, race and the density of populace:
Nobles Troupe - Nobles will group together for travel in well armed and ornate groups. These can come in any shape, race or size. Approaching them is usually a cautious event, as nobles are accustomed to taking slaves of those who displease them. Those who are obviously not a peasantry are occasionally invited to travel with them.
Caravanasi – Merchant clusters often as large as a village themselves have well known travel paths. They cater to all civilized realms for trade and usually allow travelers to accompany them.
Tread Toils – A traveling work community. Usually a group of villagers that travel to a work site that is a day or more from their homes. A camp is usually at the work site and they often make several stops at safe areas on their journey. The end destinations are usually quarries, mines, or other location not suited for a village.
River Barges – Seasoned and well respected barges will carry groups up and down rivers. These are usually well known operations who carefully follow the dogma of the river as to not upset the spirits therein. They can unpredictably be shut down by such dogma.
Pilgrimage – Pilgrims wander hither and too for a variety of reasons, and often to remote locations of lost battle fields, holy sites, benign spirits, or seeking knowledge of hermit-sages. They will take travelers under some conditions.
Bardic College – Small groups of Bards will travel with news, tales and song. They rarely contain more than a dozen members and are often seen as aloof groups who practice highwaymanship on the road, which is partly true. Still, they welcome travelers for a price.
Fernweh – Halflings and Elves in particular succumb to a type of wanderlust to explore the deep wilds. These groups are usually well seasoned travelers often not stopping by villages or civilizations for weeks or months. They will occasionally take on company assuming they are carrying a light load and competent.
Acadiea – Traveling Dwarven apprentices spend a year or more on the road. It is usually a mandatory to thing to see outside of ones workshop to better understand the world. They usually cluster under a chief instructor into groups of 20 to 30 apprentices. Those returning are usually granted mastership shortly thereafter and it is a time of great celebration. They troupes will take on travelers if they have some knowledge or craft to share.
Brigands – Thieves travel in groups in a number of disguises, or even openly acknowledging that they are thieves if sufficiently strong. Thieves will sometimes have a code that may or may not allow travelers to accompany them. It is still of course usually not wise to do so as these codes are likely one-sided.
Wildren – On rare occasion a large group of animals will group up and travel with towards or away from 'seomthing'. While this would certainly be an odd climate to travel among, it has been known to happen. As to why this occurs, who can say? ¹
These large groups are both a blessing and a curse. A large Caravanasi that gets little trade from a village have been known to rob the place blind and even take slaves. Pilgrims are just as likely to be brigands in robes than they are to understand any true calling. Because of this most villages are weary of outsider groups or travelers who are not expected. Especially if recent events have been unkind to a village.
Travelers who tag along with group are expected to offer a service as well as provide for themselves. This could be as simple as cooking or talking to a wagon driver, or something more involved. All passengers are naturally expected to defend the group from threats.
As for distances, 20 miles a day on foot or 40 miles a day on horse or wagon is reasonable. River boats vary heavily as to sea going vessels. The Dwarves have other complex machinery for travel but this is rarely used. Exotic mounts are not uncommon among Halflings, Elves and Dwarves although these would rarely go faster than a horse. Sea going vessels are also available, but these are usually operated by realms or very well off merchants. Few sea going vessels strictly cater to travelers.
¹ Note that animals in Valley of Blue Snails are a fair bit more intelligent than our counterparts. As for why they gather and travel, likely for the same reasons people do. If they seem intent on reaching or escaping a particular destination it is usually wise to heed their example.