Acadians: The Magical Folk of the Great Weird North

15th of August, and most of you aren't going to realize why I've got the day off, but it's the Acadian National Holiday! Acadia is the original name for Nova Scotia, which was settled by the French in the 17th century. When the territory was handed to the British in a treaty in the mid-18th, their descendents, now Acadians settled all across the Maritimes, were deported en masse from the best lands, something many consider a type of cultural genocide. Acadians were sent back to France (from where they often emigrated to the Caribbean) or dispersed through the colonies that became the U.S.A., and many of those made their way to Catholic Spanish Louisiana and became, over time, Cajuns. Many fled North to Quebec and beyond. Those who were on crappy land weren't touched. Some of this story is described (in highly heroic and fantastical fashion) in Longfellow's poem Evangeline. Today, though Acadia has no borders, Acadians are mostly concentrated in New Brunswick and some small parts of other Atlantic Provinces. They (we) share a very particular history, set of dialects/accents, culture, and minority status.

You'll probably agree, not a well known ethnicity outside the Maritimes. So imagine my surprise when Acadians turn up in Deadlands' Great Weird North supplement as a CHARACTER RACE! The sourcebook details Canada (and Alaska) in the 19th-century supernatural horror world of Deadlands, in the hope that your demon-fighting cowboys might want to explore beyond the border. It's rare enough to read about my province in a role-playing game, so pretty incredible to see my culture! (The Metis are the other ethnic group presented.)

Obviously, these are 19th century Acadians, displaced Catholic farmers who work the land (or the sea) and who obstinately hold on to their neutrality. The game presents their history and how one might go about playing an Acadian. We're described as having a special connection to nature, being "at one" with it, and giving back as much as we take out. We're also particularly stubborn, though not antagonistic. Other chapters go on to detail some secret Acadian envoys to Louisiana, and various Acadian gear, some of which I'm surprised never having heard of, seeing as I worked at the largest Acadian Museum in the world for 7 years.

It's not my only question, mind you. The way Acadians are described, they sound like the Elves of the Deadlands, but there are no mechanics to support nature "speaking to them through weather and plants". In a supernatural game, I would have expected a little something magical, but even the "Secrets" section sounds like simple historical fare. Some unique Acadian Edge (or Hindrance) would have been much appreciated, though obviously, the text can inspire just what Edges you will take as an Acadian, so it's up to you to play up the down-to-earth fairie folk aspect if you like it. And I do like the mention of unsettled displaced Acadians which you only catch a glimpse on in the trees or on the river, which could have been expanded to cover such pirate/patriot historical figures as Beausoleil Broussard. The Acadian folk hero sure makes a better template for an RPG adventurer than a salt marsh farmer does.

But hey, I'm just impressed Acadia is included in a role-playing supplement! So whether you have the blood or don't (and many do, thank the deportation for it), have a fun-filled and noisy 15th!


Tim Knight said...

That is so cool. Happy holidays :-)


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