A few weeks ago started building a stylized medieval settlement on a single, large lot, inspired by these cute little models. Then, before I really knew what I was doing, I had made some sims to populate it and was embarking on a kind of experimental challenge in Rflong13‘s gorgeous Redwood Forest. Here it is in the snow.
Don’t worry, the EP legacy and Barnacle Bay makeover will continue; I just like to have different options when I load up my game. I don’t really see this lasting more than a couple of generations, but we’ll see how it goes!
In my game, the community of Redwood Forest is completely isolated and technologically unadvanced. Snow falls from early autumn until well into spring, and sometimes food is scarce. In times of plenty, the sims who live in the forest build up their food stores and bring children into the world; when things get harder, their priorities are staying safe, warm, and fed.
Their year is structured around a series of festivals, two of which fall on fixed dates, while the other two depend on the weather. The first of the year, the fertility festival, is held the day after the first spring harvest, to celebrate the rebirth of sustaining plant life and pray for a warm, abundant summer. Unmarried women wear flowers in their hair, sims dance outside all day if the rain is not too heavy, and a King and Queen of Love are named. Husbands and wives give gifts to one another, and young lovers who have waited through the winter for one another tend to choose this day to marry.
After working hard through the summer, everyone is ready to celebrate the harvest festival on the first day of autumn. A feast is held in the town hall; the better the harvest has been, the greater the feast. The sims like to take this opportunity to bob for apples, drink honey, and enjoy other sweet treats that are difficult to come by in the winter.
But the harvest festival is usually soon followed by the festival of the dead, held the day after the first snow fall. During this time, sims remember loved ones lost to cold, hunger, or old age, visiting their graves and leaving them offerings. If any pumpkins have been grown that year, faces are carved in them to frighten away evil spirits. As dusk falls, the High Forester – a kind of wise woman, midwife, and village elder – lights a bonfire to keep bad luck at bay and ask the dead to do no harm to the living during the cold, dark months ahead.
Finally, in the very middle of winter, the village holds its festival of lights, when many candles are lit to remind the sims that spring is on its way. Friends and relatives exchange modest gifts to symbolize their support of one another in hard times. If any life fruit is available, it is used to bake a special pie for everyone to share. Any young sims hoping to start a family together kiss under the mistletoe and pledge in front of everyone to keep themselves chaste until the frosts begin to melt.
Collectively, I call my sims the Foresters, although they do have individual family names: the Fishers, who head out each day to the lake; the Gardeners, who grow fruits and vegetables; the Farmers, who keep a cow, chickens, and, in summer, bees; and the Cooks, who turn everyone else’s supplies into breads, salads, pies, and stews. When they have children, their eldest will stand to inherit their home and craft, but may choose instead to live with her or his husband or wife, taking on their family name and responsibilities. With the exception of the High Forester, all sims are expected to marry – to have a partner in their work and to bring more children into the world. Where neither husband nor wife stands to inherit, young couples must build a new home and find a new line of work.
There won’t be any weddings for a while, though, as all my sims are already coupled up. Let’s meet them, shall we?
Edith Gardner is dedicated, resourceful, and, uniquely among the Foresters, enjoys the challenges of the cold winter months. Her husband Jacob is less at ease with the demands placed upon him by life in Redwood Forest, harboring a secret dislike of children. Still, when things go wrong for him – which seems to be more often than for other sims – he tends to know how to smooth the situation over with a few well-chosen words. Edith’s traits are Loves the Outdoors, Green Thumb, Perfectionist, Gatherer, and Loves the Cold. Jacob’s are Loves the Outdoors, Green Thumb, Dislikes Children, Schmoozer, and Loser.
Richard Fisher loves fishing in the lake, especially in the few warm days that summer occasionally brings. As a young man, many women wanted to be his wife, but he fell for free-spirited Martha, with her silly jokes and beautiful music. That means he often has to be the adult in the relationship, keeping their food stores in order and their responsibilities to the village fulfilled, but he doesn’t mind. Richard’s traits are Loves the Outdoors, Angler, Loves the Heat, Irresistible, and Frugal. Martha’s are Loves the Outdoors, Angler, Virtuoso, Childish, and Good Sense of Humour.
Elizabeth Cook is chronically shy and often says the wrong thing. She is only truly comfortable around her extroverted and attentive husband Henry, who loves her more than anything in the world. Together they keep a clean and tidy house, and cook delicious meals for the village. Elizabeth’s traits are Natural Cook, Neat, Shy, Socially Awkward, and Easily Impressed. Henry’s traits are Natural Cook, Neat, Dramatic, Good, and Hopeless Romantic.
William Farmer is unpredictable and unreliable. His wife Helena has a quick temper and wondering eye. Can their shared love of the work they do together keep their relationship strong? William’s traits are Loves the Outdoors, Animal Lover, Unstable, Family-Orientated, and Commitment Issues. Helena’s are Loves the Outdoors, Animal Lover, Flirty, Social Butterfly, and Hot-Headed.
Rhoda is the village’s High Forester, responsible for brewing elixirs, looking after the other sims with her magical beans and herbs, and caring for the more unusual plants. She is also the only sim in the village who knows how to read. As High Forester, Rhoda is not allowed to marry or have a family of her own, but will instead eventually choose an apprentice from among the village’s children. Her traits are Supernatural Fan, Gatherer, Genius, Perceptive, and Charismatic.