SOCIETY OF THE MARKET
Life in the Nomad market is like the desert sands, constantly moving and shifting, always changing from one day to the next. In the market itself the hustle and bustle of people moving from one vendor to the next can be quite unnerving. If you are looking for something specific and hard to find, you can get very frustrated very quickly. The hundreds of vendors, big and small selling everything from clothes and produce to weapons and drugs, can be an impossible maze to contend with. There is no organization in the market as far as the merchants go, and only the larger more specialized merchants ever have permanent locations. Add to this that the Market is open 24 hours a day and you get a small taste of the chaos inherent in the Nomad Market. Haggling isn't just optional, it's a way of life here. Only the Statics accept a stated price (which for Static customers is always inflated at least 100%). The Nomad Market is the most culturally and economically diverse social gathering place in Northern California, and as such it is a celebration of life itself. For Statics, the Market is not only a shopping center, it is a thrill. They see mingling with the nomads as exotic, and this attitude has often been compared to tourists visiting native American locales. Hand built trinkets and items are especially prized as fashion statements by Statics looking to appear a bit on the wild side. Nomads cultivate this with a grin, knowing the real joke is on the statics themselves. This is yet another difference between nomads and statics, while statics would most likely be offended by someone ripping their culture, nomads are to pragmatic to get upset, the money generated through these sales is far more important.
Among the nomads in the Market, the actual market itself is a place of business. Trading whatever they can part with for whatever they can get in return, re-supplying for long stretches on the road, and meeting with others going the same direction to make for a larger caravan. The real celebration is in the camp lot. It is here, among the hundreds of other nomads where the parties take place. Friends reunite, bonfires rage, stories are shared, and music plays on into the night. Many family headman and tribal elders use this opportunity to share routes and coordinate maps. Outriders and scouts are chosen, alliances are made. In the camp lot nomad entertainment is abundant. They put up temporary theaters in tents, put on plays and concerts, wandering entertainers amuse anyone they come across. The highly social nature within the nomad community is an oddity for any outsider. Children run free through the tents and vehicles, and the parties that stretch into the early morning wild. It shouldn't come as any surprise really, life on the road can get tedious and lonely, and on the road they have to be ever vigilant of the world around them. The camp lot of the Market is one of the few times that nomads can simply cut loose and relax. Kitchen tents are everywhere, showers and baths are set up, and portable toilets are abundant. Clinics, dentists, grooming facilities, and everything else a nomad could need can be found. Tattoo parlors are also prevalent, and popular, from people getting their Tribes insignia, to simply expressing themselves. Public nudity is common, as the nomad sensibilities and lifestyle don't frown on such activities.
Adult themed entertainment is also present. Opium dens are common (although the drugs actually are far more varied), makeshift bars are everywhere, as are brothels and gambling tents. Gambling especially is a large part of nomad entertainment. Nomads are known to wager on just about anything, from standard card and dice games, to the direction a bird will fly. This is fully represented in the Nomad Market. Just outside the western edge of the market are the ruins of a suburban town, long deserted. The roads of this town and part of the surrounding area have been cordoned off to outside traffic and now serve as the Battle Track. Battle track is a huge no holds barred race open to anyone foolhardy or skilled enough to enter. Racers drive their own vehicles, and the only rule is that and the first to cross the finish line wins. It is a combat race, and injuries and fatalities are common. Races are held every sunday, and are one of only two combat sports officially endorsed by the council. During the week the track is used to settle disputes. Nomads in disagreement race to settle the score. Some see this as a safer alternative to the Dome. Recently the Council has accepted an exclusive contract with WBN to broadcast the races globally. Wagers on the Battle Track run very high, and the nomad community expects it to generate a lot of revenue.
The Dome is the only other blood-sport officially promoted by the council. The Dome is a very large but simple structure of interconnected pipes, like a larger version of the popular playground apparatus, erected just east of the Council Aerie. Hooks are attached at various points around the dome for an ever varying and exotic selection of weapons for the combatants. Two bungee harnesses are suspended from a pivoting mount on the ceiling, combatants are strapped into these. The rules are simple, 2 men enter, one man leaves. A dome fight is one of four choices available when there is a dispute that can't be solved any other way, Battle Track is another, and for non violent means there is checkers, larger conflicts involving whole families and clans can opt for Jugging. In addition to being used to settle disputes, nightly dome fights between voluntary combatants are also popular. Anyone can enter, and opponents are picked at random from the volunteers. Only melee weapons are allowed, and combatants agree on the stakes before they enter the dome, whether it be to first blood or to the death. Spectators perch on the outside of the dome or watch on one of the many vid monitors scattered throughout the Market. It's a good way for a nomad who knows how to fight to make some quick cash, and a quick reputation, and many of the tribes actually use a persons performance in the dome as an audition for outrider or warrior positions. Deaths in volunteer matches are rare, and are usually only fought till under prearranged circumstances, such as first blood, first fall, or till someone concedes, tthough if both parties agree they can fight to the death. The current champion of the Dome is a young woman named Kim Max. Formerly a Raffen-Shiv, she is now a member of the Storm Riders. She has remained undefeated for 8 months, and has amassed a small fortune in prize money. She has announced that she will fight one more time, then retire to return to the road with the Storm Riders again.
And finally there is the official sport of the nomad community, Jugging. Jugging is a combat sport consisting of two 4 man teams, competing to put a dog skull on the other teams spike. Teams consist of a Quick (the only person allowed to touch the dog skull, not allowed to carry a weapon, but kicking, biting, punching, and anything else is allowed to put the Skull on the spike), 3 Enforcers (armed with a variety of weapons, usually polearms, or clubs and shields, though any non bladed weapon is allowed, their job is to act as defense for their quick, and as offense to clear the way for him), and a Chain (whose only weapon is a long chain with a weight at the end, usually spiked, any variation is allowed but the chain must be at least 9 feet long, and no longer than 13, his job is to prevent the Quick from scoring). The rules are simple, The dog skull is placed in the center of the field, the first teams quick to reach it and place it on the opposing teams pike wins. The team with the most plants before time runs out is the winner. Time is measured in stones, and counted by the time keeper throwing the stones one at a time at a large metal gong. The rules are simple, the game is not. Strategy is every bit as important as strength, and even so the game is simply brutal. Injuries are not just common they are expected, and maiming and death is all too frequent. Most tribes have a Jugger team, and competition is fierce. There are no seasons per se as it is played year round, but their are annual championship tournaments which culminate at the major nomad Gathering. Any time two tribes meet there is usually a match. Here at the Market there are weekly matches. Non nomads are generally not permitted to watch, or participate. As stated this game is brutal, and it has been said that no two Juggers can fuck after a match, because all you are doing is rubbing wounds together. For tribal disputes involving more than two people jugging is also a common means of settling things. Jugging is a strictly nomad ritual, they do not allow it to be filmed.