Fenris: Mountain-Eater Hunt
Background - Bay Cities
A city is built on the mutual interest of disparate packs.
The term ‘Bay Cities’ is a shockingly accurate description, wrong in only one particular: they are set along the shores of the Gulf of Caman1. But they are certainly cities – actual, mostly functional, cities. Plural. True, the Bay Cities are largely crumbling, frequently dismal, and dangerous. But elsewhere in Fenris, even a single city worthy of the name is a titanic accomplishment.
The forest of buildings rising from an ocean of asphalt is no less an imposing sight if the building’s are run down and the asphalt cracked, and one will not find the like of it anywhere else in the world.
Each city is an independent, autonomous, and largely self-contained polity, most of which run in an oligarchic fashion, with the leaders of pack-gangs that run each neighborhood forming a kind of ‘city council’ – which votes on major decisions and delegates particular tasks to its members. The council can also, if necessary, take action against a member that fails to fulfill their obligations.
In turn, the pack leaders are trusted to impress the importance of the task on their own subordinates, and motivated to so do by the prestige and retaliation of the council. Though there are a number of free-loading ‘outlaw packs’, things nevertheless get done enough to maintain some semblance of critical infrastructure: the resulting city may resemble a shantytown built on the remnants of an ancient city more than anything else2, but the pipes run, crops are planted, and in some cases, the electrical grid even works.
Despite this, not all is good in the Bay Cities. First of all, quality of life is not actually that great compared to Cosin, Qalash, or even prosperous nomad tribes: the truly appealing features of an antique city, like a wealth of products, entertainment, and food, are still absent, an ancient, questionably maintained skyscraper is perhaps not the most hospitable place, and perhaps most importantly, a great deal of time and monotonous effort is spent keeping things running, citizens of the Bay Cities have comparably little leisure. However, that is not to say they have none, and they basically never have to worry about day-to-day survival, which can concern even established East Cosin towns in a bad year. Idividuals tend to amuse themselves with relatively quick games or sports… or the old standby, causing trouble.
Moreover, the Bay Cities are one of the uniformly freer places in the world for individuals. No longer obliged to travel with the pack and constantly supervised… or often do much of anything from contribute to the pack’s assigned tasks – they form their own small groups, which often generate a distinct identity. Usually such groups consist of under a dozen, but occasionally these small groups will combine or expand into a pack of their own. Most people would consider a century-old pack new. In the Bay Cities, it’s ancient.
Competition within the cities can get intense. The city council regulates distribution of resources so that things are spread ‘fairly’, but is far from free of influence. As anywhere else, packs frequently battle for control of the best living areas, better access to resources, or simply political coercion or favors. Though these combats are generally fairly slight on fatalities… unlike among nomads, there is simply nowhere for a loser to go. If not broken up among victors and neighbors 3, extended, elaborate vendettas may erupt, and simmer for generations.
Religion in the Bay Cities is highly syncretic, but generally has an undercurrent of traditional ancestor worship, and most cities worship their own set of patron gods… who are quite often somewhat distorted major figures in that city’s pre-Beast history. More often than not, the worshippers are quite aware of this and consider it perfectly sensible. ‘The City’ is regard almost as a temple in itself, and their maintenance of urban infrastructure is as much ritual as practical.
Citizens may present an irreverent demeanor, but tradition, and the proper way of life, or ‘True Life’ is considered vital. It’s just that being a bit irreverent is frequently one of the tenets of true life. Failing to back your friends is considered unforgivable.
The Bay City tradition advocates transformation in exodus… but the urban confines make that quite difficult, leading to another oddity – most packs consist of a single breed, or perhaps two coterminous ones, allowing far easier scheduling. The result is that Bay City citizens have an unusual sense of a separate breed identity, and tend to subscribe to stereotypes/proscriptions of proper breed behavior.
Some people study magic in the Bay Cities, but it is generally not considered proper behavior.
The Bay Cities largely keep to themselves, not interact much even with other Bay Cities – they don’t move, not much can threaten them, and they don’t have the capacity or ambition for empire. and most outsiders – aside from Rotten Islander raiders and east-west caravans – aren’t aware of them as much other than a legend. Telling someone you’re from the Bay Cities is likely to elicit derisive laughter among most people.
Beyond that, they don’t really fit into either of real social schemes. They’re obviously far from traditional nomads, but do tend to exhibit toughness and independence. Meanwhile, they lack the sophistication, specialization, and rigidity of most of the settled nations.
Despite their official hands-off policy, individuals in good standing with their pack can usually receive permission to go off for whatever purpose, and quite a few do – there is a strong sense of adventure in the Bay Cities, and many will travel simply for the sake of traveling. It’s not uncommon for a half dozen or so friends/family to leave as a group.
1 True, not many people are actually familiar with that terminology, but technically.
2 Because it is.
3 And quite even often when they are.