Cultures-Tsung Top

“We have been in this land for years now, building the railroads, working the mines. Then the Calamity struck, and we who love order, who hail from a land where the Emperor’s line goes back unbroken for 25 generations, were adrift. Harder to find work, to find purpose and connection. Then the great cry of gold was heard once again in a small town called Carrion Creek. Knowing there would be work for miners, that where there was wealth there would always be a place for those who toil, we journeyed to this place. To find what work we could and begin to build new lives, beyond the simple and brutal labors offered us in the East. They call this region the Whispering Hills. They say you can hear the cries of the dead on the wind. These laowai may be right. Never in our time here have we been able to feel our ancestors’ presence as closely as we feel them now. It is almost like being home again, and that is good enough for us.”

— Zhao Li, immigrant from the Tsung Empire.
Excerpt from Jeremiah Nix’s interview series for the New York Times

Cultures-Tsung 1The Tsung are an alien culture in America. To all outward appearances, they are diligent and hardworking while having a quiet, humble demeanor. However, those who look beyond that facade find a highly complex, rigidly organized social strata. Everyone has a role and with each role comes expected behaviors and elaborate rules of etiquette.

Those who chose to uproot their lives from the vast Tsung Empire often do so out of a deep sense of duty, seeking a better life for their family or following the directives of their elders. Others are driven by a desire to leave behind the stagnation of an ancient empire and follow the promise of opportunity offered by the West. They come to the West with little more than determination and focus. Some are forced to indebt themselves to the Tong to make the journey, finding themselves indentured to their more powerful countrymen. Whether motivated by debt to the Tong or cultural upbringing, the Tsung are well regarded as valuable workers.

Cultures-Tsung 3They generally keep to themselves and rarely speak of the lives they left behind. The Tsung in the West are easily overlooked and often seen as less than human by many Settlers and City Folk. They have found little friendship among the people of the Western world. Many Tsung feel they have left the East behind and are doing all they can to integrate themselves into their new home, breaking free of traditional expectations and carving out a new life away from the mines and railroads. Others, such as the Tongs, seek to preserve what they can of their society in this new land, bartering the labor of their countrymen to Railroad Barons and Mining Conglomerates.

The Tsung are a people steeped in tradition and the veneration of their ancestors. Because of the strong association with deceased loved ones, interactions with the supernatural permeate all aspects of life. It would not be seen as abnormal to carry on a conversation with one’s deceased grandfather while simultaneously warding oneself against the the attention of evil spirits. Some regularly employ sorcerers to facilitate more direct communication with those who have passed on. Rumors abound, however, of sorcerers who have bound spirits to their will, using their power to curse those who wrong them.

The Tsung, though far from home, have carried with them the immense beauty of their cultural traditions. Their expertise in the mixing of powerful concoctions to heal or harm stretches back thousands of years. Respect for such can be seen even in something as simple as the brewing of a cup of tea. Few can match the prowess of a Tsung trained in the ancient practices of martial arts. They maintain extremely close-knit communities, seeking others from their homeland with whom to share their rich traditions. The rigidity of their social strata makes it difficult for them to interact with the more egalitarian Settlers and Iron Nation, much less the haughty City Folk who look down upon them.

Common Professions: Apothecary, Tong Enforcer, Dancer, Miner, Railroad Worker, Physician, Cook, Tailor, Sailor, Martial Artist, Spiritualist

Cultures-Tsung 2Inspiration Links:

For the historically inclined, the Song (Tsung) Dynasty began in 960 and continued until 1279. The Song were defeated by the Mongols in 1279. In the Calamity world, the Tsung Emperor defeated the Mongols and created a dynasty that has lasted until the game time period. Calamity feels very strongly about maintaining respect for the Chinese, Korean, Mongolian, and Tibetan cultures. The Tsung Empire of our game represents a gross simplification and fictionalization of the Chinese immigrants as they may have been in our alternate world history. We invite players to research the cultural clothing of the Chinese, Korean, Mongolian, and Tibetan cultures of that time period and exercise good judgment before creating costumes.

Quan Fa

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