Koru: the People of the Isles part 1

Tools to help populate the archipelago

Disclaimer: none of these images belong to me and I will not be using any of them in this product. They are purely for decorative purposes on this blog and nothing else.

Use these lists and tables while you’re creating the first island chain or when the players discover a new location while they explore the wild oceans of Koru.

These are just inspirational guidelines; pick what feels right based on what has been discovered so far. If a random result doesn’t make any sense or doesn’t spark the imagination of you or your players, pick something else!

The default assumption is that these people are inspired by the First nations peoples of the Pacific Ocean and the Pacific Northwest of America. By default they are not meant to hint at northern European medieval cultures. That being said, Koru is not our own world; it is a fantastic place with a totally different history and origin.

Population: who lives here?

Two Tlingit Men (source)
Two Tlingit Men (source)

Whenever it makes sense, an island will include a Steading or a Village, especially the starting one from which the player-characters begin their adventures.

While generating an island chain, or while exploring uncharted waters, choose or roll on the following list to determine who lives on the island and why. Most islands out there beyond your home archipelago will be hostile environments that were never suitable for human settlement but still may be worth exploring.

As a general rule, you can roll a d6 for smaller islands. For medium ones, add +3 to your roll. For the largest islands, add +6 to your roll.

While it is rare for larger islands to be completely uninhabited, it is possible. In that case, roll a d6 without any modifiers. Perhaps that one huge, resource-rich island is home to a terrifying beast or victim to a devastating supernatural plague…

  1. It’s a Hostile environment due to a lack of fresh water, scarce or unreliable food sources or maybe because the island and its coastline are home to dangerous animals or plants. Only the most hardy and resourceful could dare to live here.
  2. This Cursed Land is troubled by vengeful spirits, cruel Tupua or the echoes of a past atrocity. The place is haunted or spiritually inhospitable. Individuals would only live here against their will, as punishment, or because they too, are cursed…
  3. Contains a Deserted settlement that was abandoned due to a mass exodus, genocide, suicide or something even worse. Anyone living here might be a lone survivor or recent settlers who are (so far) unaware of the previous tragedy.
  4. There is only a Solitary hermit: perhaps he or she is a sole survivor, an exile or a soul-seeking recluse… There must be reason why there isn’t a settlement there: roll again on this table but with a d3 to determine the cause.
  5. Only an Outpost can be found here. Perhaps it belongs to a shipwrecked family or it’s used as a base by a gang of outlaws, exiled criminals, or a hunting party.
  6. A small Shrine, maintained by no more than half a dozen dedicated souls. It is likely dedicated to a special deity, legendary figure or even a Tupua.
  7. A dozen or so families live in a Steading of minor significance. Perhaps it’s a relatively young settlement, or they’re the last survivors of some dire calamity.
  8. A partially hidden Cove containing a busy port. It is likely used for illicit merchants, opportunistic pirates or as a base for idealistic rebels on the run…
  9. A solidly built Temple, maintained by a few dozen supplicants. It might be a standalone building or carved out of a rocky mountainside; or somewhere even more exotic, such as an underwater cave or Old One Ruin…
  10. A famous and bustling Port that is a well known trading center, a major boat building dock or a seasonal place for major tribal ceremonies.
  11. A Village composed of a few hundred families…
  12. A well-defended and armed Fort, housing at least a hundred warriors. Its purpose may be related to war, as a defense against invading hordes or a bastion against giant predators…


Attitude towards visitors

Before the player characters first encounter the islanders, choose or roll randomly on the table below to determine how they outwardly act towards visitors. The closer that the party is to their home island, add a modifier to the roll to increase the chance of a beneficial relationship. Unless there’s strife between settlements right at the start: in that case add a penalty to the roll.

Optional: Secret motive

From Beyond Eden
From Beyond Eden

To make things interesting, you can roll a second time to determine how the people really feel versus how they present themselves. Maybe a certain village only acts hospitable when it actually want to feed the outsiders to their deity.

  1. Hostility: they will openly harm and hinder any strangers to the best of their ability.
  2. Predatory: they eagerly want to prey on the strangers, and will try to trap them, either violently or through guile. What they want, exactly can vary: resources, tools, their flesh or their souls…
  3. War: their nation is at war with the strangers’. They will attempt to drive off, imprison or kill them if possible.
  4. Enslavement.They are slavers and will do whatever they can to capture the strangers alive.
  5. Sacrifice: they’ll openly or subtly acquire the strangers for a much needed human sacrifice.
  6. Secrecy. They do not wish to be found by or interact with strangers. They will hide and conceal themselves.
  7. Trial.They seek to put strangers to a test to see if they’re worthy. Failure means death… or worse…
  8. Distrust: they won’t bother the strangers but won’t help them either. They will warily keep an eye on them.
  9. Defensiveness: they anticipate trouble from the strangers and keep their distance while preparing for the worst.
  10. Fearful: they are so frightened by the strangers’ arrival that they will flee-or fight- if they feel threatened.
  11. Disinterest: they see the strangers as dull at best or a mild nuisance at worst.
  12. Awe: the arrival of the strangers coincides with fateful prophecy or important omens, for good or ill.
  13. Seeking aid: they suffer dark times and need desperately need help. The strangers may be their only hope.
  14. Pity: either through genuine goodness or haughty condescension, the strangers are seen as sad and pathetic.
  15. Worship: the strangers are seen as spiritual saviors, either prophesied or through mistaken identity.
  16. Alliance: they see the strangers as allies to their cause: they need help with some trouble afflicting their people.
  17. Trade: they desire this above all else: they have things to sell or things that they want to acquire.
  18. Hospitality: they are compelled to feed, house and comfort anyone visiting their island. But no more.
  19. Integration: they are eager for new additions to their people. Will do whatever they can to peacefully convince them to stay.
  20. Generosity: they openly accept newcomers into their village, offering them shelter, comfort and aid.