Long Bear Valley has been out for just three short months now and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see how many people have played it (and to see people leaving ratings and reviews)! That being said, there are two criticisms that have haunted me ever since its release:
- Hex 14 simply reads: “Commune – Sixteen howling poets (Nobles) produce criminally perspective-enhancing herbs from a clandestine garden. They defend it with their lives, but trade with those they deem groovy.”
Now I grant you, it’s a fine description, but improvising 16 eloquent NPCs is a tall order.
- It’s an eminently usable hex-crawl that barely contains any of the art-game bullshit to which I aspire.
In order to kill these two quibbles with one blog-stone (and to celebrate three months of Long Bearing), we at WatcherDM bring you 16 microbios for the howling poets, complete with some poems you can use to punch up their dialogue. Use them as they are written or remix them, as needed, for any game.
Big, bearded beatnik boss. Gallen is the soft-spoken leader of this pack. He has seen the best minds of his generation destroyed, starving, hysterical, naked. He speaks in a monotone and seeks a peace with Enlightenment Cedars, who lives to the south.
Once a woman named Diane, she had her head swapped for a she-wolf’s in a fit of power-drunk madness brought on by her purchase of a printing press. She wants details on the locations of nearby cities, that she may better lay them low. She’s a high octane anarchist; when she’s not bathing in the blood of her romantic conquests, she spends her time muttering warnings about Floating Bears and Birds that Fly Backward.
Second stringer, jock-rock wannabe. Aggressively reads you his grocery list, or reminisces about being young, then demands your applause. If you challenge his credentials, he’ll go on a road trip to prove that he’s a talented poet. Replace a random encounter of your choice with a starving Mr. Jeruoac.
Quotes: you could read from List of Essentials, but skip the middleman and just yell boring nonsense and wait for applause. If anyone hesitates, remind them that you are very famous.
A fast-talking woman and trickster feminist, ramped up on esoteric stimulants. Brilliant, but often overlooked by her compatriots. She wants to jump up and start a revolution.
Quotes: “How the Sestina (Yawn) Works”
Shattered lunatic, wanted for murder, hiding out in a narcotic haze in an alien and hostile country. Incapable of holding a topic. Prone to veering into apocalyptic or sexual monologues. He’ll flee if he believes the authorities are coming. He seeks the Black Sand of Serapho.
Quotes: Naked Lunch
Angry and unwanted alcoholic, banished to the fringe. Naked and filthy, he occasionally barges into this small enclave to harass and insult the other poets, before stealing their drugs and fleeing back into the hole he lives in. A plain-speaking bastard, desperate for beauty. He seeks the destruction of Ainsberg, Enlightenment Cedars, and anyone else espousing a philosophy of contentment or self-improvement.
A half-Orcish poet from the frozen north. Oscillates between bardic hedonism and monastic asceticism. Despite being among the more talented poets here, his lack of self-confidence leads him to set most of his work to music. He will share his novels with those who bring wine or strange religions. Obsessed by the cracks in things, particularly the screw in Hex 10.
A cactus-eating Zen pioneer, interested primarily in the study of the dreams of Rhesus monkeys. She’ll trade copies of her notes for a pet rock from Hex 7.
A half-orc poet from a warm and blood-stained land. He is hunted by anti-literary goons and fascist theater critics from his homeland. He was once compared to a dog by his ex-boyfriend; he will attack any who repeat the comparison. Spends a lot of time drinking wine with Canard Lo’hen.
Quotes: Romance Sonambulo
An ascetic dervish, lonely and beloved. Amongst the mystic babblers of Long Bear Valley, none is as esteemed as Shams when it comes to discussing the divine and unknowable. Will side with anyone who shows a sincere love of the divine.
Quotes: I died as a Mineral
A plump travel writer who speaks little, his oscillations between melancholy and mirth change the mood of the whole camp. He will be moving on soon, but first, he wishes to complete a perfect haiku describing the rain. It will likely take some time as he refuses to put pen to paper before the rain ends.
This unconfident but talented kenku bard was once Ainsberg’s lover. When he returned to men, she became his assistant. Although she often hides behind her status as an aide, she performs her own work in the solitude of the woods, whispering it to the trees, or hides it under her bed. The reading Mummy in hex 11, delighted by any writing, would be particularly appreciative.
Quotes: From the poems in this article
This drunken Tabaxi poet spends all day sleeping in sunbeams and all night howling to the moon. He doesn’t speak Common, but somehow everyone understands him perfectly.
Quotes: Drinking Alone Under the Moon
Within this mutant sub-culture is a yet-stranger clique of three curly-haired bards. They all claim to be Robert Bylan, the most famous songwriter of your parent’s generation. They are not bothered by the fact that they are not alone in this claim; indeed, they enjoy the company and spend their days singing his songs to each other. Imitation is, after all, the most sincere form of flattery. They may know a secret the PCs wish to learn, particularly bardic secrets, but if your heroes want to get them to talk, they’re going to need a Rob Bylan disguise.
They are as follows:
A small child, likely born well after Bylan achieved fame.
Quotes: Buckets of Rain
Zimbo / Hedger
A wild-eyed, soft-spoken misogynist. Rumour has it he fled here to escape:
- The justice of a rodent-obsessed vigilante on the east coast.
- A lovelorn cowboy.
- Starring in a tasteless cash grab produced by necrophiliacs.
In any case, his Bylan impression is mediocre but sincere. He occasionally waves around a literary prize he won from a noble.
Quotes: Idiot Wind
The Thin Man / Blate Clanchette
Once considered the most talented actress of her generation, she portrayed Blyan in a play and never quite managed to drop character. No one minds; according to the other Bylans, she’s the best of all of them.
Quotes: Ballad of a Thin Man