Natives in the Jungle, Revisited

January 25, 2012

Yesterday’s post about jungle natives in some movies got me thinking, so today’s post is just me trying to organize my thoughts regarding the topic and gathering some links together.  Shooting the clouds to make rain…

Heard the stories of shooting arrows
Tearin’ open the clouds
But indians shoot the best, and
The indians they don’t like us, much

As I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t put much effort into predefining large amounts of info about natives in my jungle settings, despite their likelihood of playing an important role in jungle campaigns.  My preference is to riff off of vague descriptions, combining fantastical embellishments with my own conceptions (and likely some misconceptions) of real world primitives.

(For better or worse, sometimes I go gonzo.  For example, What makes these jungle natives special?)

In general, I try to stay away from the concept of “native villages”.  I’m no expert and I’m not saying there’s no such thing as native jungle villages, but I like the idea of scattered jungle populations.  It’s supported by some of the things I’ve read about primitives on Mindanao, such as the Tasaday and Ata:

“Each Ata family lived in a tree-house, separated by a considerable distance from any neighbor.  They never congregated in villages.”

That being said, I’m aiming to differentiate the natives found in different regions of my jungle setting, mostly on the basis of their relationship to visiting colonial powers and the fate that those powers have brought upon them…

In “The Jungle” (found in the Fire in the Jungle Supplement):  The natives in this region are slowly returning to their former dominant status after having been mostly wiped out by the Wizards Wars.  They are widespread, but scattered and unlikely to be encountered in large concentrations.    The greatest of them are doing what they can to rejuvenate their peoples’ lost glory.  Their great civilization of the past is hinted at in ruined structures and magic treasures, and in the tales they tell around the fire.  Perhaps a great “Lost City” hides somewhere, where the advanced native civilization still thrives in seclusion.

In “The Blasted Jungle”:  Natives here are mostly assimilated with the remnant colonial powers (The Resistance) or vice versa.  Interbreeding over the course of many generations has created a unique hybrid race and culture adapted to life in this most inhospitable jungle.  Scattered bands of true primitives remain in the remote wilds, but are extremely skittish and they no longer have much in common with the assimilated natives.

In “The Dark Jungle”: Native tribes here have strong and different cultures, but are lacking in the technological advancements necessary for the development of a powerful, unified civilization.  Furthermore, they are in the midst of their first sustained contact with a foreign culture, via the Jungle Men and the Jungle Rendezvous.

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