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The Hivefolk are a basin-folk made up chiefly of the Vespos, Loci peoples, who view themselves as innovative modernizers, a force for progress and the predestined future. Hivefolk families tend to be extremely large, and they practice a collectivist attitude which extends beyond simple family lines and into the community as a whole. They expect similar communitarian effort on behalf of the other folks, extending what they feel is great courtesy toward those who help with the great work of urbanization and fall in line toward the machine of society. Similarly, they feel a great distrust toward individualists, particularly finding fault with the Mountainfolk. That said, hive folk find prospectors, guides, and enforcers selected from among the Mountainfolk (or any other folk) invaluable, and can quickly lay their distrust aside if profit is in the balance. Those outside Hivefolk society sometimes disparage the Hivefolk as conniving, heterodox, or avaricious, but the Hivefolk consider their best exemplars to be honourable, fair-dealing, and future-thinking.

Lifestyles and Culture

Cultural Values

The hivefolk consider "folk" more a matter of community than heritage, which puts them in contrast to the Eyriefolk (who tend to view themselves as exclusively consisting of the traditional heritages that make up their community) or Packfolk (which sometimes don't even see other packfolk as packfolk). Of the various folks, only the Landfolk are more welcoming of outsiders into their ranks. Hivefolk value high density urbanization and innovation above most other concerns and consider population growth a valuable metric of "civilization".

The Hive

While Hivefolk do recognize the existence of family units, especially hivefolk with heritages apart from the Vespos or Loci, the community itself is the fundamental block of hive-folk culture. While the exact definition of such "hives" is a bit variable, they usually range in scope from entire communities (such as a hivefolk Station Town) and are rarely smaller than at least an entire neighbourhood within a larger city - San Cucaracha has numerous such "sub-hives". This term is never clear cut in any capacity; a hivefolk politician in charge of a region with several hives, like the Mayor of San Cucaracha, will appeal to the entire city or region as a single hive rather than acknowledge a division between, say, its north and south sides.

This role approaches the way most players might be used to thinking of familial obligation. It is seen as aberrant within Hivefolk culture to be too individualistic, and de-rigure that your community might ask for effort on your part.

Our Best Efforts

Hivefolk are innovators - their invention of Steam Power set the stage for the vast industrialization that is currently griping Howl Basin and leading to this era of robust settlement and population growth. However, Hivefolk innovation and their spirit of "Best Efforts" does not begin and end on the drawing table.

"Our Best Efforts" describes an important hivefolk ethos - that all roles in the engine of society are important, and must be done correctly; in fact, it is a common Vespos saying that it would be better to be a brilliant laborer than an inadequate governor. Hivefolk therefore have relatively strict ideals as far as a strong productivity culture goes, and culturally have come to expect long working hours in perhaps uncomfortable (or even perilous) working conditions as a result.

Everything a member of the Hive does is done in the mindset that the rest of the Hive will someday judge it. Aesthetics and grooming are a high priority, as is giving the presentation of good bearing and success, perhaps even if sacrificing actual luxury to do so. Large families are encouraged, to the point that it is expected that one or more partners in a household will drop out of the workforce exclusively to deal with the raising of children.

Marching Two By Two

While Our Best Efforts can often highlight the oppressiveness of Hive Cultures, the idea of Marching Two By Two serves to underline the benefit of this far-reaching collectivisation - the hive that strives together, thrives together. Hivefolk think nothing of supporting one another - at least within the same perceived hive. Wronged hive members rarely have to face their aggressors alone; the metaphor of hives and swarms is apt when describing the hivefolk ethos.

This cultural attitude is also the hivefolk's hidden interior weakness, as hives have been known to rise up and collectivize against their own leadership in times of misrule. Perhaps it is fitting that the society that gave the Basin capitalism has also given it the labour uprising.

Leadership Hivefolk

While obviously not every member of hivefolk society can be a governor or mayor, the hivefolk actually retains a relatively large social subgroup best thought of as the Leadership Class. The vast majority of members of these class are employed in comparatively unremarkable ways - as clergy, clerks, middle managers, junior executives, heads of households, and so-on. Much of hivefolk culture involves interpreting the minor distinctions in social rank between members of this class equally, and showing the correct degrees of respect; nobody more acutely aware (or precariously implicated) than the Leadership Class itself. On the otherhand, nobody is better equipped to live such a life than those who were raised in it.

The Drone Classes

The vast majority of Hivefolk live hard-wearing, orchestrated lives, and do so with relatively little social mobility even generation-over-generation. For those born or adopted into it, the Drone Classes set the stage of your life from an early age, and usually it takes a great act of fate to remove you from a predictable course.

The Drone Class are the cogs in the Hivefolk machine, the innumerable day-labourers, soldiers, custodians, functionaries, flunkies, smiths and grocers that fill their great cities and make the Engine of Industry turn over. While most never leave their ordinary lives, those who chafe under socio-economic pressure often make surprisingly hard-wearing adventurers.

The Swarm Class

While a minority of the Drone Class seek adventure, the Swarm Class are more or less born to it. While not a caste in the strict sense, some Hivefolk are just obvious from childhood and adolescence as misfits, loners, or dreamers, and their education tends toward the skills useful for this kind of work. Counter-intuitively, the rare Swarm Class's members are in demand despite this outsider perception; the hive needs someone to represent its interests abroad, after all. In this way, the Swarm Class is also a rare form of social mobility; you aren't quite a Leader, but you're the next best, and if your adventures go particularly well, you might even form a whole new hive around your findings.

Born in the Hive

To be born into the Hive is, as the Vespos would put it, to be a wheel set in motion. Unimaginative hivefolk could predict their entire lives in its broadest strokes from the time they first develop speech, but that regularity breeds a kind of certainty and mental equilibrium that sometimes is unseen among the lives of other folks.

Being born in a Hive means being born to the entire pack as your family, with bloodline as only secondary importance. You spend your whole life training for a position, until suddenly you're in that position and doing the work you've known you were always meant to do - whether you're a good fit for it or not.

Adopting the Hive Mentality

The gears of the machine of a city is those who live in it. Hivefolk are arguably the most cosmopolitan of all the folks, in spite of having been more or less founded by (and culturally, largely dominated by) the Vespos and Loci. Hives are quick to adopt and quick to eject; move to the city, make your mark, and you're one of us forever - until you become a drain on society.

Gameplay Rules

In the Howl Basin campaign setting, folks serve two roles. If your character was raised within the cultural context of the a Folk, they take that folk as their Background. On the other hand, circumstances occasionally lead to a character becoming a member of a folk retroactively. This happens at their discretion as long as they have and maintain a Connections score above 60% with that folk. At the player's discretion, such a character becomes an "adoptee" member of that Folk. Facilitators are encouraged to roleplay out this adoption as much as fits the taste of the party. Each folk's "lifestyles and culture" section includes a section on any additional requirements to join that faction permanently.

As A Background

When taking Hivefolk as your starting background, you develop your starting skillpoints and acquire a character trait as a result of your upbringing. For the purposes of determining your starting skillpoints, there are three subtypes of this background, described below. You must pick from one of the three types when creating your Hivefolk character, but please note you may still have had a mixed history, having lived the lives of any or all of the three subtypes prior to becoming an adventuring character.

Starting Skill Points

All Packfolk start the game with Analysis * 3 + Intuition * 2 skill points which they may distribute among any skills they so choose. These represent the skills you acquired during your youth as a rounded member of the Packfolk society.

In addition, Packfolk characters add the following skills as Occupation Skills depending on their subtype:

If one of these bonus Occupation Skills is already a feature of your chosen occupation, the Facilitator should work with you to come up with a substitute skill. If no substitute skill can be found, take 5 extra Occupation Skill Points in lieu of the substitute.

Hivefolk Trait: One of a Million

Regardless of the subtype, a person with the hivefolk background has access to the Passive Ability "One of a Million". Whenever the character is in a hivefolk-controlled area (at Facilitator's discretion), and making skill checks attempting to disguise their identity (whether through impersonation or attempting to "blend in") with the crowd, the character may substitute their Connections: Hive Folk score for the relevant skill score if the connection score is higher. When using this ability in such a way, the skill they would have used instead is the skill that gets marked for advancement if advancement is relevant; that is, you never gain Hivefolk reputation by using this skill.

Starting Connections

All Hive Folk characters begin with the following connections at a score of (Analysis + Presence + Willpower):

  • Hivefolk
  • The Character's Birth Community
  • The Character's current employer, if any.

This base score is chosen because Hivefolk communities by and large value logical operation, social cohesion, and resolve.

As a Connection

Adoptees who meet the faction alignment requirement and exemplify the traits of the Hivefolk to the point of becoming cultural adoptees to the faction retain their original backgrounds and do not retrain skills, for obvious reasons: the past is fundamentally immutable and moving your house doesn't change your capabilities. That being said, they do acquire a new trait.

Hivefolk Adoptee Trait: Hive's Embrace

This is an Active Effect. Whenever a character with this trait is making a social check (excluding other connections checks), the character's player may choose to reduce their Connections: Hivefolk score by X points. If they do so, they may lower the result of their social check roll by X points. This decision may be made after the roll. Points spend in this way are lost, but may be made up for with the normal ebb and flow of Connections points. If the player has fewer than 50 Connections: Hivefolk points left, they may not use this effect (doing so would represent overstepping the hospitality of their adoptive folk).

If a character gains an Advancement tick on a social skill from a check in which they used the Hive's Embrace ability, their Connections: Hivefolk score gains as many points as the skill itself does at advancement. The hive respects and rewards both native and adoptive cogs in its machine.