The Welcome Wagon

Greetings, slave, and welcome home!

Perhaps this is your first home on Gor; perhaps not. Perhaps you have experienced city life but this is your first venture onto the Plains of the Wagon Peoples—or maybe you are experienced in the ways of nomadic life. Regardless of your background, you will find that we have our own way of doing things in Maze Tuchuk Camp, one which strives to capture and uphold the spirit of John Norman's Gor.

In order to fully immerse yourself in the Tuchuk culture described in Nomads of Gor, you must be able to visualize the people, animals, and wagon camp surrounding you. The plains, a sea of tall grasses, extend on all sides as far as the eye can see, the view broken only by the milling herds of bosk, the huge, shaggy, long-horned, ox-like cattle which provide us with our way of life. There are no trees, and little driftwood can be gathered from the banks of the river and lakes beside which we make our camp; instead we burn dried bosk dung on our fires. Our livestock are herded and protected by the prairie sleen, a furry, six-legged, tawny-colored, vicious animal approximately seven feet in length which responds only to the commands of its owner. Be advised: sleen are also tireless trackers of runaway slaves, pursuing their quarry until, perhaps weeks later, the slave is caught and torn to pieces. Our borders are also patrolled by Outriders, well-armed men who ride the kaiila, a beautiful, carnivorous beast much like an enormous horse with a triple row of sharp teeth and clawed paws. Our camp also contains verr, small, domesticated goats which we use for food and milk; vulo, domesticated pigeons raised for meat and eggs; and tarsk, domesticated, tusked, boar-like animals which provide yet another food source.

One of four nomadic tribes of Wagon Peoples, the Tuchuk migrate twice a year, spring and fall, to ensure adequate grazing. Imagine the Gypsies of Europe or the Pioneers of the American Old West--our lifestyle is much the same. Rather than the all-wood Vardos of the Gypsies or the small Conestoga wagons of the Pioneers, however, we live in tall, roomy, richly furnished wagons which are described by the author in this manner:

”The wagons of the Wagon Peoples are, in their hundreds and thousands, in their brilliant, variegated colors, a glorious sight. Surprisingly, the wagons are almost square, each the size of a large room. Each is drawn by a double team of bosk, four in a team, with each team linked to its wagon tongue, the tongues being joined by tem-wood crossbars. The axles of the wagon are also of tem-wood, which perhaps, because of its flexibility, joined with the general flatness of the Gorean plains, permits the width of the wagon.
“The wagon box, which stands six feet from the ground, is formed of black, lacquered planks of tem-wood. Inside the wagon box, which is square, there is fixed a rounded, tentlike frame, covered with the taut, painted, varnished hides of bosks. These hides are richly colored, and often worked with fantastic designs, each wagon competing with its neighbors’ to be the boldest and most exciting. The rounded frame is fixed somewhat within the square of the wagon box, so that a walkway, almost like a ship’s bridge, surrounds the frame. The sides of the wagon box, incidentally, are, here and there, perforated for arrow ports, for the small horn bow of the Wagon Peoples can be used to advantage not only from the back of a kaiila, but, like the crossbow, from such cramped quarters. One of the most striking features of these wagons is the wheels, which are huge, the back wheels having a diameter of ten feet; the front wheels are, like those of the Conestoga wagon, slightly smaller, in this case, about eight feet in diameter; the larger rear wheels are more difficult to mire; the smaller front wheels, nearer the pulling power of the bosk, permit a somewhat easier turning of the wagon. These wheels are carved wood, and like the wagon hides, are richly painted. Thick stripes of boskhide form the wheel rims, which are replaced three to four times a year. The wagon is guided by a series of eight straps, two for each of the four lead animals. Normally, however, the wagons are tied in tandem fashion, in numerous long columns, and only the lead animals are guided, the others simply following, thongs running from the rear of one wagon to the nose rings of the bosk following, sometimes as much as thirty yards behind, with the next wagon; also, too, a wagon is often guided by a woman or boy who walks beside the lead animals with a sharp stick.
“The interiors of the wagons, lashed shut, protected from the dust of the march, are often rich, marvelously carpeted and hung, filled with chests and silks, and booty from looted caravans, lit by hanging tharlarion oil lamps, the golden light of which falls on silken cushions, the ankle-deep, intricately wrought carpets. In the center of the wagon there is a small, shallow fire bowl, formed of copper, with a raised brass grating. Some cooking is done here, though the bowl is largely to furnish heat. The smoke escapes by a smoke hole in the dome of the tentlike frame, a hole which is shut when the wagons move.”—Nomads of Gor, 30-31

When we are not migrating, the wagons are parked in columns with a wide grassy lane running through the very center of the camp. In MTC, we view the midpoint of this lane as our central gathering place, the place in which a huge fire continually burns surrounded by hides and furs upon which its members may sit. Nearby is the Ubar's wagon, DRAGONSLAIR, one hundred times larger than any other, its dome all colors of the rainbow. This area is also flanked by our kitchen wagons, called commissaries, numerous cook fires and mud brick ovens, and cold room wagons which create a cellar-like environment for the storage of perishable items in our iceless environment. The central area is one of comfort for the free person and convenience for the serving slave.

Each of our slaves, whether camp owned or privately collared, are given the same small wooden chest containing three changes of clothing, a brush and comb, a small hand mirror, and soaps and oils. Sleeping furs are found in the kajira and thrall kennel wagons or will be provided by a slave's personal owner. Female slaves are additionally provided with cosmetics, perfume, and two pairs of dancing silks. Among the Wagons, to be clad Kajir means, for a female slave, to wear the following four articles of leather clothing: the koora, a red strip which is worn like a headband and which holds back a slave's hair while she is working; the kalmak, a tiny, open-fronted, sleeveless black vest; the curla, a red cord tied low on the hips; and the chatka, a black strip about eighteen inches long and six inches wide which is worn snugly between the legs like a breechcloth, with the front and back flaps held up by the curla and left to dangle freely. Additionally, all women, whether free or slave, wear a slim, beautiful, golden nose ring which is symbolic of the bosk and which is no bigger than a wedding band of Earth. The garment of the male slave, the kes, is much simpler, consisting of a short, sleeveless, black leather tunic. During the bitterly cold winter, men and women, free and slave alike, are clad much the same--in fur-topped boots, leather pants and shirts, quilted leather jerkins, a fur coat, mittens, and a fur cap with ear flaps. Three sets of winter clothing, extra furs and blankets, and a pair of boots are distributed to all slaves when winter descends. And, of course, all slaves wear the Turian collar, a loose steel ring far different from the snug-fitting collars of the North.

If a slave trainer or Slaver fails to distribute this chest of necessary items shortly after you are collared, you will find an ample supply of them in any one of our freight storage wagons which are spread throughout camp. Camp owned slaves are quartered in kennel wagons; for obvious reasons, our male and female slaves are separated. Each kennel wagon usually houses several slaves. Feel free to choose among the slave wagons and to personalize your sleeping area as you see fit! Lastly, each slave is responsible for keeping his or her own quarters clean.

Now that you can imagine where and how you live and what you are wearing, you are ready to take your place in Tuchuk life. Don't be afraid to get involved! Cook a meal, tend a fire, feed the animals, churn butter--an almost endless range of possibilities exists, and you are only limited by your own imagination. Let yourself truly feel what it would be like to live on the open plains surrounded by the herds, the wagons, and the fierce and hardy people of the Southern Plains. And, above all, have fun!

Again, welcome home--your journey of self-discovery has begun.


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