GURPS: Beyond The Veil - The Price of Failure
Big Spring, Formerly of Texas
With the utter and total collapse of the United States, towns had to fend for themselves. And none of them survived, in all technicality. Any towns that have survived are only spiritual successors to their parent town. The town of Big Spring, in the southern North American area, was no exception.
Big Spring is now a feudal land, lead by the family of Governor John Wallace, and is a steadily growing agriculturally based economy. The people here can be simple minded, but you won’t be short of finding an able bodied citizen to help defend the town against the horrors of the outer wall. Even the youngest, least experienced child has at least knowledge on how to properly maintain flintlock rifle, and the best among them are fair marksmen in their own right.
What follows is the legend of the town’s birth. The truth in it may not be as obvious as what is spoken.
When Cthulthu hit North America, He came through the gulf of Mexico, right into Houston. Houston didn’t have a breath of a chance, as their population was consumed in quick succession, and he continued roving into Texas.
And with that, in a very short expanse of time, Big Spring was a desolated war-ruin, as people evacuated from the path of the rampant Elder God. The worst of the damage was fires started by gas leaks and vehicular collisions, which ended up consuming the majority of the town.
Years past. Decades past.
When the Feudal Government of San Angelo was establishing it’s claim, the Governor was looking to establish a more secure trade route with it’s distant ally, The Kingdom of Lubbock. He instated a man by the name of Brian Wallace to organize a colonization team to establish a satellite colony as a rest point between San Angelo and Lubbock, so that the traders and caravans can resupply and rest to better survive the trek of the long, hot journey between the cities.
Mr. Wallace traveled quite a distance before settling with an area just under half way to Lubbock. The area had some natives, described as having grey tinted skin and eyes that could see into your soul by Wallace himself, more than a little wary of the appearance of people claiming to settle.
Mr. Wallace negotiated with the leader, a sturdy long haired woman of exquisite beauty, for the entirety of the afternoon until they came to an agreement.
The people of the area were to be assimilated with the rest of the colony, provided that they retain their traditions and receive no persecution for it, and persecution would be met with harsh punishment. The nickname given to the people from Wallace’s people was both blunt and in shallow thought, but it has stuck to this day, as it will not be likely that they will ever be known as anything other than the Assimilated
The colonization commenced, but was not without conflict. The bulk of Mr. Wallace’s people held very strong prejudices against the Assimilated, claiming them to be “devil-worshipers” and “classless”, and Mr. Wallace could not keep his people from causing them disturbingly large amounts of grief. The local monstrosities, particularly in the area of “Old Big Spring”, did not stay out of the way of the construction and proceeded to pick off stragglers. The effort it took to keep the beasts out of the way and keep the construction going was staggering, and Mr. Wallace knew that they wouldn’t make it at the rate of attrition.
At the moment of him sending a messenger out to San Angelo, a merchant, by the loosest sense of the word, arrived and proposed a method that would “solve all of his problems”. He had with him, conveniently enough, a set of pre-apocalyptic weapons, with the sufficient strength to kill the beasts and instate order among his people. No one, other than Mr. Wallace and the merchant over-heard the price, and it has never been revealed. But Mr. Wallace accepted, and the weapons were given to him.
Upon the weapons being passed over to him, Mr. Wallace passed them onto his most able bodied men.
From this point, the colonization went along without a hitch, the weapons being as the man had promised took little more than a shot to tear through the monstrosities as they came. At the moment of the colony’s completion, though, the Assimilated had all but disappeared, with no trace and with the remainder of the Assimilated people dumbstruck and fearful.
The town was christened Big Spring, in tribute to the town it was built off of. Mr. Wallace became the Governor, whom had married the former leader of the Assimilated. The bearers of the Weapons became his lieutenants and police.
From there, time for Big Spring has advanced by two generations, and John Wallace has succeeded him as Governor.
The bottom of the society is the debtors and criminals. Those who owe a significant amount of debt are put into servitude of the debtor. Those who have committed serious crimes, such as theft of another’s cattle or taking crops from another’s land, are put into the servitude of either the offended or the whole of the Big Spring ruling house. Anyone with this social status is treated as lower than dirt, the debtor slightly better than the criminal. The unemployed tend to get this same level of treatment, particularly if they are young. To them, life is not cheap, and certainly not free. All able bodied people are expected to do something to keep the town alive.
The next level is the working class. This is the catch-all term for ranchers, farmers, thatchers, armorers and generally anyone who provides a service to the town for trade. Agriculture is a heavily prominent piece of the economy, and so the farmers and ranchers receive a great deal of respect from the people. As their names imply, the ranchers provide the meat for the butchers and the farmers provide the limited assortment of fruits and vegetables for the town as a whole.
Law enforcement is the top of the working class, bridging in with the bottom of the ruling class. The Deputies work directly under the Marshal. Deputies are on constant watch to make sure that people follow their day-to-day activities without harassment, supernatural creature or mundane, and to keep on the look out for any incursions from the beasts on the borders of the farms and ranches.
The highest class is the ruling class. The ruling class consists of the people who direct the work of the town, planning the maintenance of the town, delegating what resources go to the issues at hand, with the Governor having the final say. Without them, the people would have to fend for themselves on matters that they may not have enough expertise in dealing with, like how much stone a mason would need to be delegated to repair a home that was mauled by a Were-coyote gang breaching a wall, or the painstaking game of politics with the traders and diplomats from the other civilizations to the North and South of them.
Up the tier is the Marshal, who is police chief, judge, and leader of the militia, with his word being directly under the Governor in gravity. The Marshal is one of the only two people with the right to call a town meeting, the other being the Governor himself.
Finally, the tip of the tier is the Governor. His job is entirely to govern and oversee the lives and work of the entirety of the town. The Governor position is so far the only position to seem like it’s a hereditary position, but in actuality it is a position given only to those that the town’s people vote in. John Wallace was voted in on his competence, but being related to the founding family did help with popularity.
As far as other pieces of the society and government go, racism and misogyny are not a societal norm and is not a common thing. Men and women of any color can do any job that they fit the requirement for. However, they are constantly wary of supernatural beings of any stripe. It is considered an indecency to display any supernatural characteristic that is in your control, and supernatural creatures can see themselves receiving the blame for everything by any bystander of the next disaster.
The only exception to the racism issue is the Assimilated people, who are accepted into society, but treated with the same stigma as a supernatural creature. It doesn’t help their case that they have a grey tint to their skin, piercing eyes, can generally have the personality of a snake, and “worship strange things”.
Beliefs of the People
The predominant religion is modified Protestant Christianity. And that’s about all that they agree on.
A few hold a firm belief that the God’s Feast was Sodom and Gomorrah on planetary scale, others insist that it was the rapture, and they were all left behind due to being “untrue” to God. Still others claim that it was all the Devil’s work, and that God is yet to come to rescue them all from this. Even more radical claims can go as far as to say that Earth and Hell have subtly merged, and the results of it are what we see now. Any further into extremity have been scoffed at by relatively sane minds, and a few have even been killed for giving perturbing Lovecraft-esque rants about malefic soul eating beings from beyond our dimensions of sight, their writings on such things burned, and with the culprits of the burnings praying to their Heavenly beings that they were just crazy.
The Pagan views on such matters is not as maniacal. Some view it as a man caused disaster: People meddling in things they shouldn’t have, and unleashing forces beyond their control as consequence. Others believe it as the Mother Goddess’ way of punishing us for turning our backs on and destroying nature for our own selfish gain. Arguments on such things have rarely resulted in the death of one of the arguers.
The Assimilated people have a religion resembling that of Paganism, with only minor, seemingly cosmetic differences, in that they speak of “The Yellow Father standing hand in hand with the Mother of All”. They pray to Father in tandem with Mother, one never without the other.
The Assimilated people rarely have spoken of their beliefs on what happened to the world. Any questions of their opinion on it is usually answered in riddles, to the frustration of the questioner.