The Not-Worthy Acorn

Three men stop for the night beside the road. Their wagon creaks to a halt.

They set up small canvas tents, tend to the horses and spark a fire.

After a time, a young girl stumbles into the fire light from the forest beside the road. She is bloody and her clothes are torn.

The youngest of the men catches her just before she faints.

As she is laid down a single gigantic acorn falls from her clothes onto the ground.

The two older men jump away immediately looking horrified. One of them whispers, “Versling!”

The young man seems confused until he sees the acorn too. He goes white with fright.

There is a rustling in the trees beside the road. Everybody looks at the source of the noise.

Before anybody has time to react further, two creatures leap from the brush and violently drag the young man and the unconscious girl into the darkness of the trees.

As the men run the other direction they hear sizzling and screaming and see their shadows cast upon the trees ahead of them by bright orange fire light.

 


The Setting – 90 to 120 years into the future of the United States.

 

The internet has been gone for decades. Very few places have working electricity, running water or sewage treatment. The places with those extravagances (gigantic, dense, dirty shanty cities) are packed full of desperate people whose life expectancy is pretty low and their desire for escape is really high. The governance of these areas more closely resembles a mafia than a city council and some are WAY worse than others.

Outside the cities are the rural communities and townships where people live mostly like they did in the middle of the 19th century. These are the common folk.

The view from inside the Grove.

The Versling are a mish-mash of various magical traditions all united around a common magical alphabet and a desire to survive in the post-collapse world in which they inhabit.

They live together in large communities called Groves. At the core of each grove is a group of elders who represent the different traditions. (The GroveCore)

Surrounding the core are different bands/groups assigned different tasks. Each band living in the grove is nomadic and moves to a different station within the Grove eight times per year (after each festival).

GroveGen

The GroveGen band is a productive and peaceful group (with many sub-groups) that create/produce almost everything needed within the grove and traded outside the grove. (Though they do NONE of the actual trading). Main productive areas are Forest Gardens that provide food, fuel, fiber and medicine. Secondary productive areas are where the food, fuel, fiber are processed. GroveGen members never come into contact with a Non-Versling and never leave the protection of the grove. When they move after each festival, they move sunwise. The druids are single-handedly responsible for the vast array of practical skills possessed by GroveGen.

Produces

  • Food – Biggest vegetables and tastiest beasts come from the Grove.
  • Fuel – Wood, Biodiesel, Ethanol
  • Fiber – Cordage, wicking
  • Medicine – The Versling are the largest drug growers and distributors around.
  • Work Animals

OOC: This is the “light side” of today’s occult scene where Fairies Cards and the Power of Three hold sway.

Magic Used For: Good Harvest (timing, fotamecus lengthen seasons, etc.), Healing, Divination, Enchanting and Teaching

GroveSec

The GroveSec band (and its sub-groups) are also quite productive but are only peaceful when dealing with other Versling. GroveSec is responsible for Grove security and public relations. Their main job is to make the rest of humanity so afraid of the Versling that they stay the fuck away. They accomplish this beautifully using a combination of magic, psychology, fear marketing, myth generation and straight up brutality/violence. Over time the amount of necessary violence becomes less and less given the success of the fear-marketing campaign (and the intensity of the violence that did occur). When and if GroveSec moves after each festival, they move widdershins.

OOC: This is the group that follows a more left-hand-path where a Trickster deity becomes central.

Magic Used For: Intimidation, Fear, Manipulation, Theft and murder (Beware the death spell!) when necessary. Also use fotamecus to reduce travel time.

The perception from outside the Grove.

The Versling are a violent horde of twisted creatures that used to be human before the great collapse (Think Reavers from the Firefly universe). They now inhabit several haunted forests throughout the country. If anybody strays too close to these forests they’re usually never seen again. The Versling have terrible magical abilities and have been known to cause entire villages to go insane (GroveSec have been known to add an acid/dmt mixture designed for a nightmare-trip into food/water supplies).

Some types of trees are known to be sacred to the Versling so should be avoided at all costs. Specifically the Not-Worthy-Oak and the Honey locust. Even walking past an acorn of a Not-Worthy-Oak (Noteworthy Oak) could lead you to a horrifying death. If an acorn from a Not-Worthy-Oak lands in the road, the travelers will move the road to avoid touching it.

The only defense the common folk have against these foul creatures are a group of brave sorcerers and warriors called the Marauders who have been battling the Versling since the beginning of their scourge. (The Marauders are actually an elite group of Versling from GroveSec (The Special Forces and CIA, if you will) who protect the Grove by pretending to guard the common folk.)

If you’re the leader of a town and a Note-Worthy-Oak (tree or acorn) or Honey locust tree is growing too close, you call the Marauders and, for a price, they’ll remove the cursed tree and cleanse the area. (What the common folk don’t realize is that the Marauders are probably the ones that planted it in the first place.)

If you’re the leader of a town constantly attacked or harassed by the Versling you can call the Marauders and, for a price, they’ll fight them off. Sometimes they lose the battle intentionally if the Grove happens to want the land the town sits upon. A loss is also a great way to enforce the belief that the Versling are extremely powerful. Few actual casualties ever really occur in these battles.

The Marauders are also the ones who sell/trade all of the high quality items produced within the grove for items that the Grove can’t produce itself. Scrap metal, salt and other minerals being highly prized. When the desperate people from the dense cities need drugs to escape their lives, they turn to the Marauders.

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