Guide for Westward Travelers
“The western half of this continent may yet be unwinnable. A perilous growth of muscle, tooth, and horn seethes outward and joins the spread of the land’s strange flora. A farmer may not plant a row, and industry may not lay a track. All is uprooted by the creatures. But go there and, I am told, one finds good men and women, and they thrive amid the perils—whether they’ve yet won them over or not.”
President Abraham Lincoln, 1864
Traveling westward holds a strange promise for all that take on the enterprise. Before engaging yourself with that business, you’d be smart to have a look at the westward adventuring of other folks. With this guide, you’ll have all you need to get started…
~Record of Important Events~
Adventures that you’ll read about from here in the Territory take place over a long span of years. Whenever you start a new tale, you might try and figure out what year the strange yarn is set. This record of the major doings and changes in the west will help you get orientated—timewise, that is.
Corps of Discovery Expedition — 1804 to 1806. The years-long journey of Captains Lewis and Clark and their guide, Sacagawea, that explores the new lands acquired by the Louisiana Purchase.
Trail of Tears — 1830s. The forced migration that sends American Indians from the eastern states to “Indian Territory” across the Mississippi River. Many die and many more suffer on the journey. Those that make it find a land far different from their home. Also the new land is already inhabited by folks with troubles of their own. Such as…
Dinosaurs Discovered! — 1839. Linnaean Society of Philadelphia declares that the wild rumors are true and publishes proof to the world that monstrous new creatures stomp and snarl west of the 99th meridian.
Mexican-American War — 1846 to 1848. The war that results in the United States acquiring the territories of Tejas, Alta California, and everything in between. Presidente Santa Anna agrees to join President Crockett at the negotiating table only after the Presidente loses his leg to a giant two-legged lizard. Santa Anna wants nothing to do with the strange western lands and is happy to sign them over to the coon-skin wearing American.
California Earthquake — 1851. Striking not long after the new Californians rush to fill the new settlements, the lands break along coastal faults sending the new towns out to sea to become island ports, while the mainland fills up with bizarre new plants, animals, and strange landforms.
East Kansas Dinosaur Act — 1854. After long denying the truth, the U.S. Congress changes its tune on Manifest Destiny and passes the East Kansas Dinosaur Act into law. The act sets boundaries of Dinosaur Territory, changes the borders of its neighboring states, and funds the construction of the Line of Containment.
Civil War — 1861 to 1865. A country founded on the principles of Liberty confronts its own original sin. Bloodshed follows, but freedom for the enslaved follows soon after. Before the war freedmen and runaway slaves carve out new homes in the west. After the war more come to join them in the strange changing land.
Jefferson League Founded — ??? The exact date is unknown, but at some point after the dinos appear, communities of all types (native and immigrant) begin to organize and share with one another to protect themselves and make a living in the changing land.
~Survey of Notable Locales~
As for orienting yourself by the tales’ whereabouts, the best thing for that is a map. But, seeing as how cartographers are expensive and they ain’t fond of being hunted by two-legged beasts armed with sharp teeth and claws, you’ll have to make do with this here descriptive survey of western locales.
Line of Containment — A series of small fortresses that runs along the 99th Meridian, the Nine-Nine, that border separating Dinosaur Territory from the rest of the United States. Some say the Line bars the savage breed of terrible lizards from invading the eastern states—but most know that the walls, soldiers, and rickety wooden towers are just for show. What actually keeps the creatures (mostly) within the borders of the Territory is a genuine mystery.
Laramie Sea — Splitting the Territory at the Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest and running southeast over the Rocky Mountains and then straight south to disappear underneath the vast southern wasteland, this narrow seaway roils with monstrous sea life. Not to worry! It also teems with enterprising seafarers transporting goods, ferrying passengers, and fishing its shallow depths.
Brakes, East Kansas — At the western end of a mid-western state that has the 99th meridian as its western border, Brakes is the end of the line. It’s the last railroad town before the open prairie becomes deep pine forest, fern swamps, and pitted canyon. A weird kind of trade gives Brakes its liveliness. It’s one of the few towns that sports a train depot and a stegosaurus pack yard.
Tribal Nations — Some nomadic and some fortified in hilltop villages; some prospering off the bounty of the Territory’s waters and some hunting dino herds across its plains; some in a league of trade with settlers and some hidden and hostile to the newcomers… Regardless, most tribal nations thrive off the changes to their homelands. For this reason, some settlers say that they’re responsible for the appearance of the strange new wildlife. Tribal leaders, of course, deny having anything to do with it and answer that they’re just as surprised as everyone else.
Morrison, DT — Situated on the eastern side of the Territory between the Hell Creek Woodlands and the canyons of Morrison Plateau, the town of Morrison trades in pine nuts—typically milled. The versatile uses of the town’s native kernel were discovered by its founder (and current mayor) when he and his blue ox ran out of the flour they needed to make flapjacks.
Sunk Mesa, DT — This rough seaside town sits on the eastern shore of the Laramie Sea. Ne’er-do-wells of all types seek it out (or blunder upon it) to make use of the town’s dock and ferry. Some even take a drink at the town’s favored watering holes. One such establishment offers a wake-up concoction that’ll leave anyone—even 40-foot finned beasts—a-howling for a sobering drink of freshwater.
Medicine Bow, DT — One of the Territory’s booming metropolises, this city boasts a large count of people with folks from all parts of the strange land and many from the mammal-dominated parts of the world. Mysteries tend to spring up from this place, but that’s typical for metro areas surrounded by carnivorous two-legged giants, ain’t it?
Mount Yellow Stone — This dern thing seems to get bigger by the day. It looms over the Territory west of the Laramie Sea. Even in the Territory’s heat, brought when the dinos came along with their plants and other animals, this mountain sports a fine crown of snow in its upper reaches. But don’t make the mistake of thinking dinos don’t dwell in that weather, a breed of them grow a fluffy down of feathers—and, of course, sharp teeth and claws.
Jefferson League — As already spoke of, it ain’t clear how the arrangement began, but throughout the Territory you’ll find towns, cities, and even tribal bands that have joined the League. League members look after each other and have agreements as to the individual rights of their citizens. Here’s another thing… The League’s leaders are often the big movers and shakers of the Territory. If there’s something odd afoot, you can bet you’ll find the toes of these folks wiggling nearby.
Saloons and Grub Houses! — The Right O Eatery, the Golden Dactyl, and Marty’s Saloon—that’s just to name a few. Folks in the Territory need to meet up, relax, and maybe take a meal, a game of cards, or a sip of something for their thirst. The Territory is flush with such establishments ready to meet those needs. The grub on offer at these places is especially interesting to newcomers. Ever tried a tub-fried plodocus neck? How about poached ptero eggs? You’ll find options for vegetarians too… pickled swamptails and spice fern au gratin, anyone?
~Register of Curious Folk~
Dinosaurs are interesting in their way, when they ain’t stomping after you and salivating for a bite of upright mammal-flesh, but it’s the folks that call the dinos their neighbor that are the most interesting. You’ll find that this register will help you recognize the good, the bad, and the plumb crazy that live amongst the terrible lizards.
Hutch — This kid begins his trek in the town of Brakes with the aim of passing through Dinosaur Territory. He brings with him a packaged French contraption and a plan to launch a business in the California isles. It’s on account of the great lizards that his pa lost his livelihood (and his life) so the boy wants to put those creatures behind him and start off fresh in those islands of gold. But the road ahead is long, and he begins the trip with some distrust for the Stego driver leading the westward convoy. Does the driver want to steal Hutch’s contraption? Or does he want to turn Hutch in and force him to work off his pa’s debts? Click for more.
Wendolyn — This city girl knows her stuff about dinos. So much that an admirer from deep in the Territory invites her to leave Washington D.C. and travel west to learn about the creatures in their native, newfound, and ever-changing habitat. The admirer even gives Wendy a gift, a loyal breed of theropod called an ornitholestes (ornitho for short). Wendy answers the call, and maybe she runs away from home. Now she’s about to step foot into this weird new world that she’s read all about. Click for more.
Addox — Born on the run and carried by his ma away from slavery, Addox likes to keep on the move. So when the US Postal Service wants someone that can carry their parcels with posthaste, it is to this young man that they look. Be it on horseback, guanodonback, or even the back of a toothy creature with great leathery wings, Addox finds that he’s right at home, zooming toward someplace new. Click for more.
Dorgin — How many times has it been now? Ten? A dozen? From one end of the Territory to the other. Few can get travelers across the Territory faster than this stego driver. But the trip is always a dangerous one—no matter how much experience Dorgin’s built up. Why does he risk his life and limb with such a dangerous enterprise? Is it for the gold pieces? Well, they’re something, it’s true. But maybe there’s something more? Maybe there’s some other reward that drives the man to bring these ignorant easterners into the west? Click for more.
Lassiter — Gunmen, whether their hearts be good or otherwise, court tragedy in their line of work. That’s true of the Territory’s most feared Soldier for Hire. It’s a family tragedy and the desire for Revenge following it that has Lassiter in its grip, and it could be carrying him straight to a tragic end (despite the man’s skills with firearms). Click for more. And more.
Porivo — Guide, Band Chieftess, League Councilwoman—that’s to name just a few of her roles. Smart folks seek out this powerful Shoshone woman for her quick wisdom and special understanding of the changes to the Territory. As the decades pass, you find she’s a part of many tales in this strange land, nudging folks in the right direction or, if they ain’t too bright, kicking ‘em right square to the place they need to be. Click for more. And more.
Matilda Crockett — It’s the frontier days, and the daughter of a legend has crossed the Mississippi with her pa. She’s traveling into a new land that seems to be changing in ways that its inhabitants didn’t know were possible. As she journeys, she must choose a path for dealing with lawless highwaymen, treacherous rivers, and murderous creatures with big teeth and claws. Odd thing about her story is that you may be able to help her make her course… Click for more.
Folk Legends — Paul Bunyon, Cap’t Allison Stormalong, Col. Skip Bleedliver, and even ol’ Davy Crockett (a real-life legend) may be counted among the legends of the Territory. When you encounter them in these tales, don’t expect them to be the same figures from the Tall Tales that you’re used to. The Territory has shaped ‘em different. But don’t let it bother you either. If your tale was twisted around to include twenty-foot tall carnivores with teeth and claws as sharp as Bowie knives, you’d shape up different too. Click for more.
Rascals and Scoundrels — The brothers Kurke and Kinny, Big Bill Seymore, Jack Hickock, the industrial conglomerate National Western Enterprises, roving gangs of highwaymen, and maybe even the gunman known as Lassiter… They might be thieves or bullies or men that do violence for hire or even regular folk that take with both hands from those with less. They’ve all wormed their way over the Line of Containment. Still—with each of them—there might be a nugget of something good, and that should never be overlooked. Nobody’s story is black and white. Not even that of the man in the black hat. Click for more.