Rob Does Words
Treating fiction poorly since 2019


The world changes all around us. Admittedly, it can be easy to miss if you were, for example, in the middle of it. After all, the cities were a constant source of change. But it is also easy to miss if you were one of the rural dwellers or in the farming class. Things moved slower in the interior than they did in the city, and life just happens.

Further out, especially in the game camps of the northern expanse, entire generations could live and die and not see any change in their way of life. There's a famous example of one of these camps making contact with the larger world, and even today, some 80 years later, it’s still used as an example of how not to deal with these sorts of encounters.

The settlers that crossed the oceans found this continent to be mostly empty; inhabited by flocks and herds of unfamiliar animals, flora that put to shame the drab greenery they had left behind and a resourceful and stubborn, yet respectful, native population.

At first, there was little conflict, but both populations were still small and the continent was big enough for all of them. But over time this changed. The settlers grew faster than their limited resources could cope with and they started to encroach on the natives land.

The natives weren't beholden to territory and fences were a foreign concept, but in general there was a distinct difference between their land and the land the settlers claimed. When those vague boundaries were crossed, conflict could not be avoided.

The Great Western Struggle is an infamous and well documented era in the founding ages of our country, however it does not tell what happened in the north.

As the settlers moved further north to find new claims to work, they found other tribes of natives and decided, despite pressure from the colonial government, to work with the natives. This led to the original game camps.

These northern tribes were semi-nomadic - unlike their southern cousins who kept more permanent villages - and moved with the seasonal ice flows and the migratory animals that moved with them. During the winter these camps would move south, keeping just ahead of the massive glaciers which would push the animals south, at least those that didn't hibernate. These animals would be funnelled into the camps traps and the natives would teach the settlers how to hunt so there would be a herd next winter.

As the days warmed and the glaciers retreated, the hibernating animals would reemerge and the camps would move north, doing the same to them.

The problem was that with more and more people each year moving with the camps, there was less and less meat to go around, and the camps tended to split from each other when they hit a certain number of people. This forced each camp to maintain a relatively steady population but also forced the population as a whole to move eastward.

Over time, this meant more and more people were not exposed to the machinations of the nation at large; each camp was really its own little thing. Eventually, these camps reached the far east coast of the continent. While it wasn't any warmer on this side compared to the west coast, the lay of the land meant that the glaciers did not come down as far south, which grew the hunting space these people could work in. Not only that, but some of the first permanent hunting towns were built in the north east.

One of the smallest of these towns was built in a bay which opens out into what used to be the main shipping channel in the east. It’s only a model village these days, representing it, and the other hunting towns that existed at the time. It also commemorates the event which led to the current game camps.

It was early winter and one of the freshly minted cargo ships coming from the colonial homeland to drop off various bits and pieces to the colonists along the eastern coastline had veered significantly off course and ran aground in the shallows just off shore from the little town.

Now, since these ships were brand new and this one was on its maiden voyage and the townsfolk were several generations removed from the original group who had arrived on the western shores of the continent and had no direct experience with large ships, waking up one morning and seeing this tall, steel thing rising out of the bay was rather alarming to say the least.

Most of the younger townspeople were terrified more than anything, and when the adults saw smaller boats lowered down from the bigger ship and start rowing to shore, they did the only thing they knew to do when in the presence of potential threats: they got their guns.

Meanwhile, the native population of the town, in an effort to ensure the safety of their own people, plus the safety of the town as a whole, had retreated out of the town and into the forest. This would later prove to be one of those damned if you do, damned if you don't situations. If the natives had stayed in town, the sailors from the wrecked ship would have shot them, as they had no idea about the cooperation between them and the colonials. But hiding in the trees made the sailors think they were even more of a threat, and when they were discovered, they were slaughtered en masse.

But before that was the siege. The locals fired over the heads of the boats as they entered the bay. When the sailors realised that they were too far away to yell their non-hostility at them, they anchored their boats and waited.

The crew still on the bigger ship saw what was happening and radioed this information down the coast to the nearest big city, which in turn sent up a portion of the newly formed armed forces. But instead of entering the town peacefully, these soldiers made camp outside town and basically told the locals to lay down their arms or they'd be taken by force.

The siege lasted eight weeks, and was only broken when a small group of soldiers stole around and approached the town from the forest where they found the natives hiding. The killings snapped everyone back to their senses and talks began.

You can argue all day about whether or not the game camps should have been annexed by the expanding nation. And to be fair, they never did get all of them. But the cooperation with the natives is said to have ended then and there and when the other tribes caught wind of what had happened, essentially all negotiations with the colonists were ended.

So, in one way, the game camps and their voluntary segregation from the rest of society is what ultimately caused the Rolling Wars, but obviously there were a great many other influences that played their part as well.