Our second Serial Setting begins this week. NPCs presented during the course of the serial setting will conform to the Ubiquity rules and the setting itself will conform to the pulp stylings of Hollow Earth Expedition. Our location is a fictional town on the West coast of Korea in the year 1936. Revolutionary stirrings among a people nearing their 30th year of oppression are just two years shy of being put under the twin pressures of Japan’s military mobilization, and the attempt to once and for all erase the Korean culture – beginning with the language. That things will be getting in worse in the future is no reason to believe that things are not terrible in the present.
1. The Jangsung of Samhang
Like most communities, the approaches to Samhang are marked and protected by wooden figures commonly thought of as spiritual generals. Commonality ends there, as each community, while following a template of sorts, produces totems of unique charm, flavor, and intimidating appearance. The figures, called Jangsung in Korean, are set in pairs and are matched sets of fiercely scowling men and women. In this harbour town’s case, the residents have been protected by two sets at the north and south roadways into the township proper, a fair distance inside the small ring of fertile pockets of land clinging to the sides of the aggressive mountains rising like teeth of the dragon from the West Sea (Yellow Sea).
Samhang’s jangsung are grey with age and weathered by storm and sun until they look almost like stone. The inscriptions, common to most if not all such devices are kept freshly painted, but the totems themselves radiate an age comparable to the hills themselves. The inscriptions, dualistic and describing the male figure as the great general under the sky and the female figure as the general under the sky, follow the natural twisting contours of the poles and stand out in eccentric but starkly clear carved characters. The faces, with bulging eyes and gaping mouths filled with large, uneven teeth, challenge those who approach Samhang from inland – daring them to bring harm with them, and promising violent retribution if they do.
The figures set by the side of the North road in a small, raised clearing ringed with stones arranged for the purpose. Behind the figures stands a small copse of pines. The figures set by the South road occupy the top of a small rise overlooking both the roadway and one of the three harbours from which the community draws its name. Although not in and of themselves spiritual, the sense of community identity, the sense of protection, and the totemic power of the poles is tangible and held in no small regard by the people – inclined toward mysticism and religion or not.
It is unsurprising then that the rebel leaders, three of whom we shall meet in later installments of this serial setting, are known as the secret chiefs or generals, and have taken on the role of the nation’s protectors in much the same way that the jangsung protect their home. The first, however, we shall meet now, and his name is Kwon, Oh-Dok - a short, but powerful man with thick glasses and meaty fists propelled with unerring accuracy by a world-class mind and more passion for freedom than any ten of his fellows.
Kwon Oh-Dok ~ rebel leader, passionate speaker
Oh-Dok Kwon turned 30 in the spring of 1936 and has few if any memories of a Korea not under the subjugation of the Japanese. He was raised in strict obedience to Neo-Confucian values, and with a firm sense that there was more to the world than what he could detect with this senses. He is not a creative man, nor an imaginative one, but he is brilliant, he never ceases to learn and absorb knowledge, and unlike most, he applies it to the world around him.
Although not a large man, he has always been active and free climbs rock faces when not engaged in his occupation as a fisherman. He had hoped to follow in his father’s footsteps to be a teacher, but… this was not to happen. His daily labour is on the sea, and he labours with the intensity of a man who refuses to allow anything he does to be below his abilities.
In his teens, Oh-Dok discovered two things which changed his life, and put him on a course which destined him for pain and challenges beyond normal measure. The first of these was that the world beneath his feet was just a shell around another. The second was that the wonders therein must be kept from the hands of those who seek power without principle. He is not a violent man, but he will use whatever tools necessary to prevent evil from spreading further – even at the cost of his homeland’s freedom.
Darken others' doors: