Founded in 1761 and very much a small town, Tamarack Falls is the more supernaturally, shall we say, _aware_ of the two areas our game's grid covers. Weird things happen there, and people know it. Don't build on the east bank.
- 1 Tamarack Falls
- 1.1 Attitudes
- 1.2 Families
- 1.3 Geography
- 1.4 Population
- 1.5 Local Politics
- 1.6 Supernaturals
- 1.7 Travel Times
- 1.8 Facts of Rural Life
- 1.9 Town Traditions
Being a small town, "everybody" knows "everybody" there, or knows their family, or heard from Great-Aunt Trudy that their family's dog did something to their neighbor's petunias on Memorial Day. Attitude happens.
They're private folks with private problems. Sure, they're friendly enough to tourists, helpful people, kind to strangers, but if you're an out-of-towner, conversations may well shift to other subjects when folks see you walking up to their table.
Unless you're going on the third or fourth generation, you're still a newcomer. You'll be judged, constantly, and talked about behind closed doors over the dinner table, but if you seem like a good sort, or if you have a useful job, the gossip likely won't be bad. It'll take a bit for loyalty to rub off on you, for the town to open up its secrets, but once you're a local, once you take part in the fairs, the town events, you're one of their own. Plus, new blood means all the old stories can be told all over again to a more appreciative audience. Harrumph.
A necessary evil -- a double-edged sword. Changelings know the Fae; they ARE fae, and that means they're the town's best defense. In matters of that defense, in matters of guidance toward mitigating the effects of the True Fae on the townsfolk, they are sought out, but while some townsfolk find their presence exciting, exotic, a fantasy come true, those are usually the young ones. The older townsfolk know better. They know that having Changelings here will draw more of the weird and uncanny creatures, and more conflict, and only hope that this time, no REAL humans will die in the next disaster's aftermath.
While it is not wise to break the Mask anywhere, plenty of people here at least know it exists.
Given that a fifth of the people in the town have at least SOME form of psychic gift, they're fairly accepting of strange things going on. A granny with a reputation for knowing how to kiss a booboo healed, a friend with an uncanny knack for knowing just when teachers are about to turn the corner, these things just happen. This prevalence of giftedness falls under the auspices of "keep it to ourselves" when newcomers come 'round, and if strangers come asking about it, it's none of their business.
The following Families have a presence in Tamarack Falls:
This is home base for them. Most Desrochers members stay in town and commute to jobs in the city as need be, though some choose to live there. A half hour drive to get from town to city streets isn't their cup of tea, and if their job is at the pub or the Garreau estate, well, who wants to drive that far after lights out?
The I Feel Hoppy microbrewery (WR08) is the site of the family home and town-based business.
The town is home, but not all Fry are homebodies. The core group stays, tends the farm, makes ice cream, keeps the wilderness safe around the town, but there are plenty of brothers, sisters, cousins, etc. who prefer the wail of sirens and the honk of taxis at all hours to the silence of a rural night.
The Dair-ya Creamery (OT04) is the site of the family home and town-based business.
Geographically, sure, the town is home, but the Lefevre family tends to consider itself an adjunct to it, not truly part of the same organism. They keep to themselves off on the east bank, and most townsfolk rightfully consider them uncanny for doing so.
The Maple Hill compound (ER09) is the site of the family home and maple farm.
This is their town. No, really, this is their town. They are why this town exists, why it prospered, and there is deep family pride in seeing their creation grow. The city's nice enough, and most Millers leave the town eventually, but the roots are here, the core is here, and everyone comes back at least to visit. The porch light's never off.
The Miller Estate (WR02) is the site of the family home and business.
Nestled in the valley of the River Tam, Tamarack Falls is surrounded on three of four sides by the protective bulk of two mountains: the dual-peaked Salvation and, smaller, easterly Mischance. The valley itself is a fertile place, filled with farms and small orchards. Much of the town itself was cleared as part of the logging efforts in the 1700s, though those had largely ceased by the end of the 1800s, the need for lumber lessening as other sources grew to prominence. The town's borders are still forested, and small groves persist throughout the valley. Many streams exist, most of which eventually sink underground to join the river on its way over the cliff which forms the small town's southern border. Two hundred feet of craggy granite and a plunge of white-plumed spray, the falls which lent the town their name are as beautiful as they are dangerous. Lake Brunsett has them to thank for existence.
The town has a bit below 780 people, if you count all of the loners out in the woods who only show up once in a blue moon.
Given how few people there are to manage, it shouldn't be a surprise that the politics of Tamarack Falls are fairly simple. While the mayor originally had far less unilateral authority, past events...well. It was made clear to the town that one central decision-maker was better than consulting a committee in a crisis situation.
As the town is located in Vermont, the first Tuesday in March is Town Meeting day, when voters elect municipal officers, though the names on the ballots seldom change, and the names in the offices seldom vary. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
- Mayor - Elected by the voters of the town, he has almost total administrative authority, with the power to appoint and dismiss the heads of other local roles without council approval and with little to no public input.
- Councilors - One of the council which supports and works with the mayor, the councilors have no individual authority, but rather act as a body to vote on and pass motions for the town.
Mayor & Council
- Mayor Jacques "Jack" Bonheur - Calm, competent, respected. Ensorcelled. The details aren't public knowledge, but townsfolk know he sees the faeries. Neutral on the supernatural issue. He does what's best for his town.
- Councilor Emily Watson - Runs the local library. Mention Harry Potter and she will hit you. Dislikes Changelings, and actively opposes anything which would benefit them. Neutral regarding M+ matters.
- Councilor David Stowe - Owns the local hardware store. Stolid, unimaginative, indifferent. Does what benefits the town. Neutral on the supernatural issue.
- Councilor Zeke Regan - Owns a local apple orchard. Cousin of the Fry and Desrochers families. Friendly, approachable, competent. "Live and let live" attitude toward supernaturals and oddities.
- Councilor Rebecca Ehrmann - Housewife, mother of seven, precog. Firm but fair. Changelings are things to be pitied, but a bit like keeping wild beasts in your house. SOMEthing is going to get broken, even if they don't behave badly.
This is Changeling-ville. More than anywhere else in the game, territorially, Tamarack Falls is the domain of the local Changelings. People know you exist. Some of them are, or were once, ensorcelled themselves. Maybe they want to be again. Maybe they never want to see another fae; maybe their nightmares are already too full.
The major exception to this is, of course, the Lefevre family, which throws a lot of Thaumaturges and Psychics into the mix, but they stick to themselves.
That said, there are a few locations in the town which "fairies" are, ahem, strongly discouraged, shall we say, from patronizing. Sometimes a man just wants to know the person he's sharing a beer with doesn't have a tail on the wrong side.
To flesh out the less convenient aspects of rural life, here are some rough ideas of how long it would take from point A to point B in and around Tamarack Falls.
Mind you, these are averages. If you have high Athletics and other related stats, you can certainly get there faster on foot, and horse travel is of course speedier than walking.
|Northern edge to southern cliff||~10 minutes by car||~2 hours on foot|
|Town square to Fort Brunsett outskirts||~30 minutes by car||~6 hours on foot|
|Town square to nearest supermarket||~35 minutes by car||~6.5 hours on foot|
|Western foothills to west riverbank||~8 minutes by car||~1.75 hours on foot|
|East riverbank to Mischance Mine||~4 minutes by car||~45 minutes on foot|
|Hiking Mount Salvation East||~20 minutes by car (switchbacks)||~2.5 hours on foot|
|Hiking Mount Salvation West||n/a (horses/on foot only)||~3.5 hours on foot|
|Hiking Mount Mischance||n/a - car can't reach summit||~1.75 hours on foot|
Facts of Rural Life
Internet service is not a guarantee, and if a line's not underground, chances are good a tree will fall on it. It won't mean to, but snow is snow, and snow can start as early as October. The same goes for electricity. A fireplace is not just a decorative statement.
Don’t expect to be out in your garden before May for more than the most cold-hardy of bulbs. Storms can, and will, continue straight up through Memorial Day.
If you’ve never lived where frost heaving and salt can play merry havoc on your asphalt streets, you may not understand just how much trouble the Vermonters save by using plain dirt roads. Dirt and rock, pebbles, some chunks of larger gravel, and some unexpectedly high speed limits for such narrow, hilly lanes are not unusual, though drivers who like their windshields intact keep the speed down on dirt. Many of the major roads are paved, but just as many aren’t. There aren’t any painted lines. After storms, great big machines slowly drive by to noisily scrape the ruts flat and grade the hard-packed dirt and gravel back into a level road, and spread oil overtop to minimise the dust. Rocks tend to get kicked off to the side, which means barefoot road-walking won’t be kind to soles which try to stay on the edges.
While the local store is sure to have conveniences, for big purchases and a chance of something more than staples, drives to the city aren't just advised -- they're necessary, and it takes a good half hour just to get there.
Yes, maple is everywhere. Try the maple rum in Coke. It’s worth it.
Being a small town, Tamarack Falls still has its fair share of traditions and town gatherings, some more logical than others.
Each year in late September, the small town holds a day-long Apple Festival to commemorate the old orchards which used to exist on Orchard Lane, greenhouses and nurseries from across the region donating apple seedlings for visitors to buy and plant in their own yards. Vendors set up booths with home made foods and soaps, clothing, gifts, and there are many games for children and adults alike, ranging from wheelbarrow races to archery competitions, shooting an apple off a post.
For weeks beforehand, the town nominates 'deserving' women of its choice, casting their ballots, and on the day of the festival, the year's Apple Queen is crowned with all due pageantry and rural fun. The Queen has no age category, but is granted the privilege to select a 'Consort' and a 'Court' to preside over, and is in charge of choosing games to entertain the festival for the rest of the afternoon.
She is also given pride of place at the head of the great Apple Feast table, where winning recipes from all over the county, voted on and chosen during the week prior to the event, are fed to attendees. The only qualification is that the dish must contain apples as an ingredient, and not simply a garnish.
No, not real ducks.
Every June, families with small children (and some without) assemble a trebuchet from whatever they please, not larger than a human is tall, to see who can fling an armada of floating rubber duckies from the west side of the river to the east. All ducks are marked with the names of their flingers, though there is no limit on size, or lack thereof. The flinger who gets the largest number of ducks over the water within five minutes of wielding their home made trebuchet wins!
Any ducks which don't make it are caught by netting strung from the bridges downriver, retrieved, and count as points de-duck-ted from their flinger's total score. It is entirely possible to come out of the event with negative points.
Children are encouraged to take the 'fallen' ducks to the "Duck Hospital" tent to care for them with stickers and bandages before bringing them home.
While few remember now why it is done, it is a town tradition to go out en masse into the wilderness after the first snow of the year and pick a sprig of wild holly for each child dwelling in your home. The holly is hung above the front door's outer lintel, and it is considered poor luck indeed if it should fall before the winter's through.
Frozen Bread Guy
When the town heard about the Frozen Dead Guy festival out in Nederland, CO, they were thrilled -- and inspired.
Every year, now, the Frozen Bread Guy contest takes place in late April, once the snows are beginning to melt off of the foothills of the mountains. The winner of the contest decides the theme of town's Spring Fling Festival in early May. Themes must be PG-13.
After the first deep snow of the season, participants bake their preferred bread recipe using all-natural ingredients after registering with the contest organizer, creating massive bread-shapes sculpted to look like men, with whatever natural, biodegradable food decorations they desire. Fabric is forbidden, and any form of plastic or metal is right out. The harder and less edible the bread, the better it survives in moist snowy weather.
Then, they bury them in the snow above a specific line on Mount Salvation's western slope to freeze over the winter, leaving a slip of paper, cardboard or, more commonly, woodburnt wood to label whose Bread Man is being left there, and to write down their desired theme for the festival. Whichever bread guy "survives" the winter most intact wins the contest. The Town Council acts as judges, and consequently doesn't participate in baking the bread themselves, though the Mayor often tries. And fails. There is a running joke that Mayor Jacques "Jack" Bonheur, notoriously incompetent at anything related to producing edible food, makes meals which are only good for feeding pigs -- and wild animals.
Greased Porcupine Catch
Formerly done with greased pigs, every Spring, right around Beltane, members of the town gather together for a day of ridiculous slips and falls and very irritated porcupines.
Once, back in the mid-1960s, the pigs and piglets set aside for the greased pig event managed to get free of their pen, and, the banks being slippery due to a recent rain, each and every one of them proved that pigs can fly just fine -- and fall even better -- by slipping right on down the river and over the 'falls. The modern-day netting and ropes were added to the bridges shortly thereafter, to prevent the disaster from happening again.
Now, the event organizers weren't sure what to do. They had folks coming from all over the county, they were supposed to be picked up as part of a television program on local culture, and there they were, with no pigs on the day of the pig-catch.
They needed to use SOMEthing, and Danny Webb, he had a bunch of baby porcupines he was breeding up for the quills, for making 'Indian' jewellery. Danny donated his babies for the day, a lot of leather gloves were found, and the event was such a hoot that everyone agreed Webb's porcupines should be the new event.
To this day, the Webb family breeds porcupines for the town, and always sets aside a group of youngsters every Spring. Thankfully, part of their agreement stipulates that THEY are not the ones who have to CLEAN them...
Lords and Ladies Ball
Begun in the early 1800s by Mildred Miller, a particularly charitable member of an already civic-minded family, the Lords and Ladies Ball is a light-hearted event held by the riverside, originally on the land now claimed as the Mrs. Evelyn Miller Memorial Gardens.
As the story goes, Mrs. Evelyn Miller met her husband, Aaron Miller, while he was traveling abroad, attempting to escape a reputation for clumsy mistakes. He was a well-meaning fellow, but his life was anything but charmed. Not knowing of her own personal wealth, believing her to be the daughter of the painters she was living with, he courted her until he won her hand. The fact that he had stumbled upon a wealthy orphaned heiress AND successfully convinced her to marry him AND move to Tamarack Falls is family proof that, for the romantics, love can triumph over ineptitude -- or that sometimes, even idiots get lucky.
Evelyn, new to the family, was eager to find her niche, and she found that in flowers. She and Mildred became inseparable companions, and together, they put together the charitable affair which became known as the Lords and Ladies Ball. Each participant pays a fee to join, and receives a role to play for the event, as well as assistance with acquiring a suitable costume, should it be necessary. Fashion choices are strictly Victorian, though foreign garb from the same time period is acceptable.
Roles are, predictably, lords and ladies of various titles and properties, all of which are imaginary, some entirely preposterous, and all meant for good fun.
The event begins promptly at eight, and ends at midnight. It is always held in late May or early June, depending upon when the flowers are most lovely. All fees are donated to regional women's shelters.
New Year's Day
It is customary, at some point during the day of January 1st, to make a trip into the centre of town to lay a sprig of evergreen upon one of the graves in the town cemetery. If your family is too new to be buried there, laying your sprig on an empty grave is acceptable.
The town hosts a small parade early in the day, crossing the southern bridge over the Tam to ride, all on horseback or horse-drawn carts, out into untrammeled snow to collect a cupful to bring home for tea, or to put in stew water, or soup. The "Wishing Ride" is popular with the very young and the very old, supposed to bring luck in the coming year.
In addition, the 'New Year Nail-Up' is a long-standing tradition -- and one whose origins are not discussed with out-of-towners.
Every year, the Town Blacksmith creates freshly-forged small black iron ornaments and decorations, cast and wrought alike, all through the month of December. Families are entitled to one ornament per family member, free of charge, and on new year's day, the ornaments are hung over doors, in windows, chimneys, over cribs or the beds of children, for protection. The You Know What don't like iron, you see, and parents are just as glad to keep them elsewhere. To outsiders, this is simply another silly superstition for good luck.
Pink Cow Run
Begun in the 1970s, the Pink Cow Run is the result of a Fry too lazy to properly dispose of his dyes.
See, Jeremy "Sundancer" Fry was really, really, REALLY into tie dye... and every drug he could get his hands on, but that's not important. What's important is the dye.
One day, high as a kite, he just tossed out his buckets of dye solution on some muddy grass out in one of the nearer fields, near where he had been hanging up his freshly dyed works to dry, not knowing that the cows had been let into that pasture earlier in the day. It being a hot day, a nice wallow in muddy water was just the thing -- and imagine the surprise of the family when, as the mud dried, their dairy cows developed a mad case of dye-itis, fur sporting a range of eye-searing colours.
The next day, out in the pasture, these brilliant cows spooked and stampeded thanks to the roaring arrival of a young teenage Fry's boyfriend on a motorcycle out of nowhere, breaking the fences and charging toward town...led by a very, very pink cow.
To remember the incident and perpetually embarrass Jeremy Fry, the family ensures to host a race EVERY year as soon as the weather begins to warm (so, May/June), where people dress up in pink with cow bells, fake horns, tails, whatever they choose. All proceeds are given to charity.
Spring Fling Festival
The Spring Fling festival is seldom the same from year to year, its theme decided by the results of the Frozen Bread Guy contest.
Held on Lazy Otter Hill and the Tenner Plaza nearby over the course of an entire week, vendors and guests from all around the county come to play games and, most notably, to take part in the Spring Fling itself, a dance where older women get to pilfer younger men for a twirl around the plaza.