Sunday, October 16, 2011

Berk Bonus Factions: Canadian Berserkers, Hermits, Yoga Zombies, Streetfood Vendors, Graffiti-Bots

So what's next for Berk? I intend to write a novel set in Berk for National Novel Writing Month, but there is half a month between now and then. I realized after September ended that there were several things I still wanted to get down in writing about Berk before starting my novel. It feels like there is a lot more in my head than in the posts. I know I'll never be able to get it all in writing, or even really figure out what exactly I imagine, but I'll try to get some bonus posts up between now and November, and maybe a few short stories to take the setting for a "test drive."
Lumberjacks at Work, by the awesome Scott C.

 Canadian Berserkers

Foreign mercenaries are not common in Berk, just because there are so few areas left that are civilized enough to give rise to mercenaries. One of the few other surviving pockets of civilization is Canada. The Great White North, or at least part of it, survived the First and Second Events thanks to the natural tenacity of its people. In the post-post-apocalypse, they have established a pseudo-medieval setting, with elected nobility. As there were fewer firearms in Canada to begin with than in America, firearms are almost unheard of in the post-post-apocalypse, so Canadians use medieval weapons like swords and bows. Given their affinity for the lumberjack trade, it is not surprising that the preferred weapon among Canadians is the ax.

Most Canadians only fight when they must, usually against wild animals and the few rare Gibson gangs who roam north of the border. Some find that they have a talent for combat, and these men and women have a hard time living in Canadian society. These battle-ready Canadians, known as Canadian Berserkers, often wander south to where the fighting is more plentiful.

Canadian Berserkers see themselves as nearly out of control, barely able to keep their bloodlust contained between fights. In reality, they are merely not quite as polite as other Canadians, which still makes them the most polite residents of Berk. For instance, they will apologize for the slightest thing, but not profusely.

In battle, Canadian Berserkers have a reputation for being skilled and rugged. They have no fear of spending time out in the wilderness, though they can be disappointed by the bare wastelands around Berk with no trees to cut. Similarly, Ents tend to get nervous around Canadian Berserkers. Canadian Berserkers are polite to everyone, but their lumberjack blood makes it hard for them not to thumb their ax blades when eying Ents.

Flannel shirts, jeans, and toques are the most common outfits for Canadian Berserkers, and single-bladed axes are their best weapons.


Though none reside permanently in Berk, it is fairly common to see a Hermit passing through the city. Like hermit crabs, they build the homes they wear on their backs. A Hermit spends his or her whole life entirely encased in a suit of armor. The Hermit builds and repairs the armor constantly, and each is as unique as the individual wearing it. To the Hermit, the armor is more than a home or protective clothing: they see it as part of their body.

Hermits are peaceful people. Their armor protects them from most of the dangers they face in Berk. They wander the hills outside Berk, often cultivating small gardens. They spend a lot of time in contemplation, though their philosophy tends to be straightforward and practical.

Though they are usually solitary, Hermit don't mind a bit of company. They will sometimes travel to Berk to acquire parts for their armor or buy food and other supplies. They value their privacy, but being encased in armor allows them to maintain some privacy even in a crowd. If someone meets a Hermit while in the hills, the Hermit will stop and talk. Hermits prefer to spend the majority of their time alone, yet many have friends who will come and visit them from time to time.

It takes a lot of effort to crack a Hermit's shell and hurt the person inside, and even Gibsons do not have much reason to harm the peace-loving Hermits. If anyone ever goes after a Hermit, though, they should be warned, because the rest of the Hermits will find out about it and go after them. Before messing with a hermit, you had better be ready to deal with a mob of bulletproof people bent on vengeance and accompanied by their allies.

Nobody knows what the person inside a Hermit's armor looks like. Some people assume they are human, while others believe they are an offshoot of humanity specially adapted to live in the armor. Others believe that Hermits are crablike in appearance, or even colonies of many smaller animals. It is dangerous to try to find out by force, and it is considered rude to ask.

Yoga Zombies

Living in the post-post-apocalypse can be stressful, and yoga offers a way to soothe nerves and relax. This made yoga extremely popular in Berk following the second apocalypse, and new forms of yoga were invented and perfected in the years following the Second Event. Unfortunately, one of these forms of yoga was a little too successful. The people who practiced it would become so calm that they would enter a dreamlike state of mind, wandering around muttering "om" with glazed expressions on their faces. They would grab anyone they came across and twist them into yoga positions until those people, too, became Yoga Zombies.

Yoga Zombies can easily by identified by their loose, comfortable clothing, blank stare, shuffling walk, and chant of "om." Though they do not move quickly, it is essential that travelers in Berk remain on their guard for fear of being surrounded.

Though they are not truly undead, Yoga Zombies have proven to be very resistant to pain. If a fight with Yoga Zombies is unavoidable, aiming at their chakras will take them down the most quickly. It is recommended that you concentrate on the Sahasrara and Ajna chakras. In other words, aim for the head.

Streetfood Vendors

Berk is a dangerous place to live, but it is also endlessly interesting, varied, and exciting. The best place to get the full experience of Berk - the danger, the variety, the excitement - is with the street food vendors. Streetfood Vendors come in all varieties of sizes, shapes, and styles, and so does the food they sell. While all humans in Berk are mutants, Streetfood Vendors tend to have more visible and outlandish mutations. Nearly every species that lives in Berk can be a Streetfood Vendor. Even some Russian Werewolves run stalls or carts when off-duty, and there are plenty of Streetfoot Bots rolling around, often with their chassis designed to fry and display the food.

It is impossible to describe the variety of foods available at the various carts, trolleys, stalls, tables, and tents the Streetfood Vendors set up around Downtown Berk. There are, however, a few themes: fried things rule, and many of those fried things are on sticks. Additionally, there is a limitless array of noodles, stews, pies, and things in buns.

One enduring mystery about the Streetfood Vendors is where they get the food from. Much of it undoubtedly comes from the farms and ranches surrounding Berk. Other sources of food are hunting expeditions in the Deep City and Unsettlement, urban farms where office buildings are turned into mushroom farms and hydroponic gardens, fishers, and trade from the Sunken City. Even with all that taken into account, it still does not explain the huge variety of foods available on the streets of Berk. Given how reluctant the Streetfood Vendors are to discuss their ingredients, perhaps it is best not to ask.


The buildings of Berk may be half-decayed wrecks, but one thing is always fresh: the graffiti on the walls. To the residents of Berk, graffiti is a way of livening up their city and showing the gangs and raiders that the people of Berk aren't going anywhere. Meanwhile, the gangs of the Deep City and the Gibsons are both also known to put up graffiti that matches their styles and intentions.

Ruling all other graffiti artists in Berk are the Graffiti-Bots. Nobody knows who programmed them, or if they started on this task on their own, but these Robots trundle around the city, inspecting the various tags scrawled and painted on the walls. The Graffiti-Bots rate these according to some unknown scale, and they take it upon themselves to improve the works that can be improved, paint over the ones that cannot, and leave alone those precious few works deemed good enough for the walls of Berk.

Each Graffiti-Bot has its own style, so they sometimes diligently paint over each others' work. Occasionally Berk residents will spot two Graffiti-Bots working on the same piece, painting over the other Robot's work until one of them runs out of paint. The result of these adversarial collaborations is often stunning, and anyone who lives near a building with such a work painted on it will be sure to show it off.

Some of the Graffiti-Bots have non-Robot fans and followers, including a few self-proclaimed proteges who try to mimic the style of their revered Graffiti-Bot. These hard-working acolytes will take it as the greatest compliment to have one of their works improved by their favorite Graffiti-Bot.

The one thing that nobody in Berk would ever try to do is to interfere with a Graffiti-Bot. After all, Berk is already bleak enough, why not let some Robots add a splash of color?

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