“Those people… They live in some sort of cave or something, wear animals skins, shoot at you with bows and arrows if you get too close. I don’t know what’s wrong with them either; they don’t speak Merican.”
While most world cultures and civilization are long gone, tribal groups are even further removed from the world before and in many cases have reverted to a near primitive way of life. Banding together in groups and relying on lifestyles and survival techniques that are thousands of years old, they often resemble Native American and, in some cases, Mesoamerican tribes. They have rich and unique cultures all of their own created over the last two hundred years. Some of them are animistic spiritualists, while others have somehow appropriated bits and pieces of culture from the world before and created bizarre religions around them.
California Youth Scouts
“Honor, Integrity, Perseverance, Kinship.”
No one knows the origins of the mysterious California Youth Scouts, but they have a long history in Sokal and have managed to survive longer and better than just about any other tribal group. By anyone’s standards, the California Youth Scouts are very young — no one has ever reported seeing a Scout older than fourteen. There are a few theories of what happens to older Scouts, but nothing has been proven or become common knowledge.
Scouts are always dressed in their uniforms: tan shirts with red pinstripes and various badges and patches denoting certain tribal accomplishments, similar to honor tattoos and scarification in other tribes. The Scouts are not numerous, but they range far and wide all over Sokal, giving the illusion that there are more of them than there actually are. Scouts are the undisputed masters of survival and woodsmanship, and their entire lives are based around strict principles and practices that help them stay alive in the harsh wilderness of Sokal. Relatively open, Scouts frequently make contact with other wasters and settlers to trade for necessary supplies and information. Scout guides, while somewhat immature and eccentric by most people’s standards, are the absolute best wilderness guides in all of Sokal in spite of their extreme youth. While not Theurgists themselves, the Scouts openly worship and give tribute to what they call “The Great Bear”, a patron spirit of some sort that guides them and gives them purpose.
The Scouts know they’re no match for anyone in a fight, so they’ve mastered the art of disappearing into the wilderness. No one finds a Scout in the woods if they don’t want to be found.
“I’ve only ever seen one of them once, but I never want to forget it. Gorgeous and terrifying. Some guy in Bako had the bright idea to try to steal a glyph stack she was carrying. He was dead before he hit the ground.”
The Descubri, or People of the Mists as they refer to themselves, are a mysterious group of tribals hailing from parts unknown. No one outside of the Descubri knows where in Sokal they are based, if it’s even in Sokal. The Descubri are also known for being predominantly female and leaving an impression wherever they go. This is partially because of rumors of their fierce fighting ability and partially thanks to their well-deserved reputation for beauty. The Descubri are generally peaceful, but they never like to stay in one location for too long and prefer to wander, constantly searching.
The Descubri, when asked, will discuss what they are searching for. Many years ago, a great Shaman of their tribe communed with the spirits and was told that the laws of the world had changed fundamentally somehow. The ancient chroniclers of the world before the Fall had foreseen this change, though they didn’t know what they had discovered. They created a book describing the new principles that guided the world around us. If this book, a book called the Book of Heroes by the Descubri, could be found, it would give them great insight into the true nature of the world. Or so they believe.
Descubri are seldom seen in groups, for they prefer to fan out to cover more ground. Their myths state that the Book of Heroes is, in fact, a real actual book and not some metaphor for inner peace or some bullshit. Thus, they actively look for places that held many books before the Fall. Ancient libraries, repositories, and bookstores are their favored destinations. When asked, though, few Descubri can actually describe what the Book of Heroes actually looks like, or if it’s even called the Book of Heroes. They claim that they’ll know it when they find it.
The Devil’s Own
“They’re crazy, every single one of them. No one messes with them because if you do, they mess with you back, harder, and it’ll keep getting worse. Before you know it, they’ve eaten your legs while you watched and buried you up to the neck outside a Mut-ant hill.”
It was said in the time before the Fall that the best defense is a good offense. The Devil’s Own, sometimes just shortened to Devils, take this to a cultural extreme. Every aspect of the Devils’ persona is designed to create fear and terror in anyone they come across. The Devils are known as a warrior culture; they have to be, given their central location in Sokal and their vast size compared to other tribal groups in the area, both of which attract a lot of Bandit and Raider attention. Their strategies of intimidation and brutality have worked out, though, and the Devil’s Own has absorbed many other smaller tribal groups in Sokal and has claimed most of the central mountains as their territory. While they appear extremely aggressive, the Devil’s Own also show impressive restraint in most cases. They almost never attack first, though they are known for vicious revenge raids on anyone they believe has wronged them.
The Devil’s Own has a policy that they refer to as “The Tenfold Price” — any damage done to them through malice or dishonesty will be mirrored on the perpetrators, only ten times worse. This is the core of the terrifying reputation that has preceded the Devil’s Own across Sokal, a reputation they have deliberately cultivated through harsh treatment of themselves and others. The typical Devil’s Own “greeting” is more similar to a tribal war dance involving lots of loud screaming and aggressive dancing. The warrior initiation rituals amongst the Devil’s Own are many and varied, depending on the specific grouping, but are legendary in their brutality. The Devil’s Own dress the part, too. While most in the Wastes concern themselves with warmth or protection, the Devil’s Own go out of their way to appear intimidating, usually baring a large amount of skin as a sign of fearlessness; what little armor or clothing they do wear is covered in spikes. They usually festoon themselves in battle trophies and the scalps of those they have defeated in combat. They have also created a unique form of tattooing as a way of recording prestige within the tribe; the few outsiders who have gained the respect of the Devil’s Own usually bare their ink with pride.
The Dogs of War
“I don’t even know where to begin with those things. You can’t deal with them at all. We had a Wulfen who we kept around and fed scraps. Someone had the bright idea to send him to talk to them. That may’ve been the worst mistake I’ve ever made. We could hear his howls from miles away.”
Nobody really knows where the Wulfen came from. The scruffy dog-men and -women of the 22nd century have integrated into human society very well in comparison to other non-humans. It may have more to do with the Wulfen’s naturally subservient attitude rather than any open mindedness on the part of humans. After all, the Fall didn’t exactly do wonders for human civility.
Most Wulfen are perfectly content to live amongst humans, despite being treated like second-class citizens or pets by some. There is, however, a very dangerous minority who resents humans and all non-Wulfen. Previously, these dissidents would form into small nomadic packs and roam the Wastes looking for humans to hunt. While they were dangerous, they never really approached a level of threat beyond most day-to-day wasteland hazards. Recently, though, this has changed. A few years ago, these groups banded together under a charismatic Wulfen, a battlescarred and impassioned wolf-blooded Wulfen named Crooked Tooth, and formed their own large tribe. Their incredibly violent nature and tendency to wipe out anyone who strays too close led to them being named the Dogs of War by some Waster who had read a few books. Crooked Tooth decided they liked the name and let the Waster live, minus his legs.
The Dogs of War have since established themselves as a self-sufficient and vicious Tribe. They operate like a wolf pack, with Crooked Tooth as their Alpha. Most think that they are nomadic, as Dogs of War packs now roam all over Sokal looking for what they refer to as “good hunting.”
“Just… stay out of the fucking mountains. I don’t know how they manage but just trust me on that one.”
There are places not even hardened Bandits and brain melted Raiders dare to tread. The deep valleys and snow capped mountains of Sokal are such a place. Called a death trap by most and a spirit haunted hellhole by those feeling less generous. One group, the respected Peacemaker tribes, has a much more chilling name for it: Home.
Descended from the hardy folk who lived in the same mountains before the Fall, the Peacemakers kept to ancient ways of survival that have held true for as long as they can remember. As one of the longest existing tribes in Sokal they speak of the “Great Winter” as the catastrophe that spelled the end of the world before. But like most groups they don’t care about the past when the future is so uncertain. They hold this pragmatism with good reason. The mountains where they live are some of the harshest terrain around. Prowled by some of the fiercest mutant animals in the waste included the feared Grizzalope. Some even speak of the dread Cujo spirit that haunts the night, dragging people out of their cabins to be feasted upon. The Peacemakers are said to have ice in their veins for these reasons, they deal with shit the likes of which most Wasters have nightmares about on a daily basis. When Peacemakers descend from their mountains, clad in thick flannels and draped in layers of colorful patterns, many know to treat them with proper deference.