Mournwold Human Thralls - Clothes

Hi!

I’ve been reading up on the situation in Mournwold, as I was wondering:

If you were playing a Marcher who had been a Jotun thrall in Mournwold for the last 32 years, what would your costume look like?

  • Whatever clothes you had at the start of the occupation would be long gone, so it would have to be stuff that was made while you were a thrall.
  • Would you have been able to keep your Marcher styles of 30 years ago, or would you have to dress in a specific way as a thrall?
  • If there was a specific thrall dress, what would it be? The Jotun wear tunics over trousers, which is part of the Marcher costume from the wiki anyway (tunics over slim trousers). Would this be thrall dress as well?
  • The Jotun have taken the lion’s share of the harvest each year for food, leaving ‘enough’ or ‘sufficient’ for the thralls to survive (I’m assuming this is somewhat similar to living at the height of food rationing. You have enough to survive, but nothing left over for illness or celebrations) . Can you assume a similar situation with material i.e. you have enough to cover you, but nothing left over for wider skirts or a bit of decoration?
  • Clothing would be worn and patched? Would you wear a couple of thin patched layers for warmth instead of one thicker, newer, better quality layer?
  • The Winds of War on the wiki mention Mournwolders dressed in ‘homespun’. What would be your definition of homespun? Would they have had the time and equipment to dye their clothes, or would they be of undyed cloth?

That is as far as I have got in my thoughts. Any comments and/or opinions and/or other thoughts are welcome. I’m having a hard time sorting this out in my head for some reason.

Thank you in advance for all and any help.

:heart:

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My thoughts only - based on what little historical knowledge I have accumulated making costume for Empire and other systems.

Basic medieval rectangle and triangle style dress/tunic design lasted for 100’s of years because it was economical with fabric and easy to put together, so I suspect that wouldn’t have changed.

I would think that what you would get is less changes of outfits, so patches over worn areas, showing that an outfit has been let out or taken in as it was passed down would be really neat, and probably smaller circumference of hems ( less gores - sides only not front and back maybe). You might see repaired cuffs or hems in a slightly different shade to the original cloth, where someone has attempted to make it match but can’t quite get it right perhaps.

Homespun can still be good quality, especially from some one who took pride in their work, but it would likely be made very hard wearing. Why spend the time making something flimsy when you could spend the same time making something that would last? So I would suggest fairly heavy wool and thickish linen.

As to colours mid yellows, pale greens and mid brown are very easy to obtain and not working time consuming (putting the fabric in a tub doesn’t take long, although it may need to soak for some time), and any colour sheep naturally come in. Underdress linens or shirts are likely to be cream not white, or yellowing with age.

Does that help?

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@Charlie P, Thank you! Yes, that helps a lot. Those sort of thoughts/ideas/opinions are exactly what I am after. Reading them makes my own ideas clearer and more detailed - plus other people think of things I would never have thought of (e.g repairs in a different shade of cloth). You have been a great help.

Thank you!

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Hi Lavender,

While I can not give you specifics here as I have not read up on the above, I can give you some advice on making things look aged.

There are a whole host of techniques used in the theater and film industry and quick google will throw a lot up. But key ones are things like spraying mud water of different ratios give a really nice effect of rain marks etc, specifically around the bottom. I also have seen people literally covering bottoms in mud and leaving it to dry and then brushing it off. Also washing it a few times helps take the edge of colours off and helps to break them down a bit. Also one of my personal favorites is to break down material itself. By continually rubbing an area will break the fibers down and this can cause distressing as well as holes and fraying to appear.

As I say these are just a few examples of many hundreds but it might help you create the look you are going for.

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With regard to shades of cloth, this can be hard to achieve if you’re making things new but a good one is to do repairs in the same fabric as the original, but have the garment be faded and slightly sun-bleached, whereas the repair, having sat in a box for years, is the colour the material started out.

The other thing from real history to make use of is that fabric lasts a lot longer than clothes. You would, over many years, remake garments into other items. This can be because they no longer fit, because there is a tear somewhere, or because it is a hand-me-down. This often results in incredibly well tailored garments with seemingly illogical seams in them, because it has been sewn together from a differently shaped item.

For example, there is a Janet Arnold compass cloak pattern made from a variety of different wedge-shaped pieces. The end result is a perfectly flat circle, but the seams are not uniform.

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@Phoenix, Thank you. I have no idea how to make things look aged and worn, so all advice on that is gratefully received and very helpful.

@slawterer, Thank you. I now have ideas about making something that is too big and then remaking it to fit me. It’s more work, but it would give the old sewing lines etc - especially if I wore it around the house, washed and ironed it a few times before I remade it.

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and experience with me. This is exactly what I need to get my own ideas sorted out. It is very helpful and very much appreciated.

:heart:

Just be aware that when adjusting things to fit that are much too big we generally use seams that are already there. So while the concept works you loose the whole point of it. My advice would be if using @slawterer advice would be to make something different to a certain degree, a bed cover or oversize tunic and then cut it apart and use those pieces to make the desired item. That would require serious time and skill to ensure that material is being used ad best as possible.

A better alternative to create the same effect would be to make the desired item but before finishing it to add in extra seams and stitching detail etc. This will make it easier and cheaper as you can just make the desired item as needed. But for instance instead of sewing piece A to piece B you could in fact cut piece A in half first, then sew it back together and then sew to piece B. If doing that then you will need to cut those pieces in a bigger size to allow the room for the seam to be made and then cut it to size.

I hope that makes sense and provides a cheaper and less time consuming approach to created the desired look as mentioned.

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To be an Empire player character, you need to be an imperial citizen, i.e. have an egregore bond. Having an egregore bond means feeling compelled to dress in the correct style, so yes, you would want your Marcher style of 30+ years ago. This could actually make quite a nice background for a new player who doesn’t have anywhere near aspirational standard kit yet, they were left with only basic rags and now they are free will slowly be adding more and more Marcher trappings.

Simple idea - the Jotun are usually designated red. So you might have more red items than usual, but if possible aim for the brown end of red.

The Jotun have some similarities with Wintermark - try to avoid distinctly Wintermark kit.

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@Phoenix, Thank you. Your advice makes a lot of sense and would definitely be a less time-consuming approach to the ‘remade clothing’ idea.

@Penny, Thank you. I am concerned about looking more Wintermark/Jotun than Marcher. If I wear a single tunic over trousers, in brown colours, with no decoration at all, and a linen coif, would that be Marcher? Or would I need to add something else to it (like a poppet made from rags)?

Thank you for taking the time to read and reply and share your advice with me. I appreciate it very much.

:heart:

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Very poor marcher i think which is what you’re after I believe. Certainly I don’t think you would be mistaken for any other nation.

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@Phoenix’s suggestion is a very good one, add in ‘fake’ remaking seams rather than actually remaking a thing. Just be careful not to go overboard. One or two long seams across the body is all you need, you don’t want to end up with patchwork.

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A coif is very Marcher. I think that would look more Marcher than Wintermark but could depend on exact kit. It certainly doesn’t sound iconic Wintermark.

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@CharlieP, Thank you. Yes, ‘Very poor marcher’ is exactly the look I am after. I’m happy that you think this kit will look Marcher.

@slawterer, Thank you for the warning. I will limit my fake seams to a maximum of two.

@Penny, Thank you. I’m happy that my kit idea doesn’t sound iconic Wintermark.

Any ideas on how to make a plain, undecorated brown t-tunic and trousers worn with a linen coif look more Marcher will be gratefully received. Thank you for all the suggestion, advice, thoughts and opinions so far. All of them help me a lot.

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Love your idea of a very raggedy poppet. You may have been a thrall, but your still a marcher. Look around the hearth magic bits and add them. Poppets, some dried long grass in your coif. A common style of the marchers is to have the colours halved, if you can stitch to differently coloured items together of the same style it would be an easy way to get the effect. Winter mark has simple plain colours, marchers would break them up.

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@Mr_Haystacks, Thank you. I’d forgotten about the Marcher liveries. Two shades of brown should work for that - a tunic with fabric x on the left and fabric y on the right. That’s assuming my character was able to get two shades of brown at once - I suppose it all depends on what sheep fleeces were available for carding and spinning.

:heart:

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Hey up.

it’s a good question. First off,and very much off the top of my head, I don’t think the Jotun would have mandated you dress in a certain way. They want your food and your service not a uniform look. Tunics over slim trousers is a good look for both nations so I’d start there.

When it comes to decoration, I’d keep it low-key. That said, an heirloom “Gran’s necklace we kept in abox and wore on special occasions to remind us of the Good Old Days” could be cool. I’d also probably look at coarser materials but I have only the vaguest idea what those would be.

I guess the cool thing here is the chance to tell your story through your costume - are you Marchers who resolutely resisted the Jotun (like the Whittle folk) so you kept to the traditional styles, or did you keep your heads down and adopt a few more Jotun-y elements from your orc thrall neighbours?

A key OOC consideration is that if you’re playing marchers, you’re still marchers - so err towards the Marcher look and feel rather than the Jotun one. But Marcher with a few Jotun-style accents would not make me angry. Penny’s suggestion of “wear more red” sounds cool to me.

I’l ask the Boss if we can slip a paragraph or so about Mournwold thralls into the Marcher brief somewhere.

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@Andy_Raff, Thank you! That is a lot of very useful advice, and is very helpful. A paragraph about the Mournwold thralls in the Marcher brief would be wonderful.

Apart from wearing something red, what would be some Jotun-style accents my character could use? I can’t think of anything. Any and all suggestions would be useful and appreciated.

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I can see the following being added to really basic rustic Marcher costume/kit:

  • fur or fleece
  • leather ‘warskirt’
  • animal skulls

Remember that under the Jotun the thralls are not warriors, they do the farming and mining and manufacturing. They are unlikely to have had lots of fine armour or arms under Jotun rule. I would see a former thrall using very simple weapons and leather armour, upgrading over time as they gain more money and resources.

Check the Jotun look and feel: https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Jotun_look_and_feel

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@tehancocks, Thank you for taking the time to reply and for your suggestions. They certainly started me thinking, which is what I wanted. :slight_smile: My character will be non-combative, so armour and weapons are not an issue. My concern with fur or fleece is that it would make the kit (a t-tunic over slim trousers) look too much like Wintermark.

I have looked at the Jotun Look and Feel on the wiki. It talks about dressing as a Jotun warrior, and I can’t find anything about dressing as a Jotun thrall (which is probably why I went blank on Jotun-y elements to add to the soft kit), apart from using the Jotun colour of dark or blood red.

I think what I am looking for is non-existent information on Jotun thralls and how they dressed, in the hope of borrowing one or two elements for Marcher costume. In the absence of such information, does one make it up, or wait and see if more detail will be forthcoming on the wiki?

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I guess whatever goes up will not be extensive, it is a rather niche area of the world.

Focussing on a very poor and lowly Marcher garb would be the best bet for now - that isn’t going to be ‘wrong’ at least.

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