- "The hills are watching."
- ―Note found on a corpse north of the Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium
|Group type:||Post-War Ethnic Group|
|Motto:||"Who needs sunshine when there's moonshine!"|
|Location(s):||Hills and Countryside of the South, some other rural areas|
|Goals:||Survival, occasional violence|
|Allies:||Clan-by-Clan basis, Brethren of the Shroud|
|Enemies:||Clan-by-Clan basis, raiders, swampers, Klansmen Confederacy, Brethren of the Shroud|
Even before the Great War occured, the poor of the rural South were considered a people apart in America. Already isolated from the rest of society and destitute, the fuel crisis and New Plague hit the ancestors of the "hillfolk" especially hard. Things, of course, became even harder when October 23, 2077 rolled around and the bombs finally fell. Most in rural areas survived the initial attacks but dealt with the results of the war soon enough. From the bombed-out cities, radiation and refugees spilt into the wilderness, equally dangerous to the people of the hills. Raiders became increasingly more common.
In response to this, the proto-hillfolk became more clannish and distrustful of outsiders. They banded together into tight-knit communities and became isolationists in order to protect themselves from the dangers of the wasteland. That was how the hillfolk were created. Living in clans in trailer parks and small farms, the hillfolk became their own little countries, where every patriarch was the "king".
Radiation, the New Plague, and increased inbreeding because of isolation created a people somewhat different from baseline humanity. Though more prone to severe mutations and recessive diseases, hillfolk remained human and same as humans, have good and bad sides. Some hillfolk kill outsiders, rape them, or eat them, sometimes all three. Others are more lenient and let outsiders travel through their lands without hassle. Many hillfolk even have a healthy respect for ghouls, regarding them as wise old elders and revering them in their community. However, the bad eggs of the hillfolk stick out and the image of all hillfolk being rapists, motherfuckers, and cannibals is still stuck in many wastelanders' minds.
As time went on and hillfolk families became more and more inbred, some hillfolk men started leaving home after adolescence to search for new communities, sometimes forced out by their fathers, the "alpha male". This tradition became more and more common until it became ingrained in hillfolk culture by 2200. This led to increased genetic diversity in the hillfolk community and became a tradition for later generations. Some wandering young hillfolk men even banded together into groups, known as "beta groups". On these journeys to find themselves mates, hillfolk men (and very rarely women) become great fighters or die in the process. This was later named by Alabaman traders as the "alpha male" tradition.
The first big hillfolk settlement to have contact with traders was Ham in 2192. A relatively new town built by a nomadic hillfolk clan in the ruins of Birmingham, Ham's residents almost shot the first caravan that came through their territory but with the exchange of a few gifts, they were cowed to let the caravaners through. Soon, caravan traffic in through Ham increased because it was safe to pass through, and those hillfolk learned that peace could be profitable.
Though some some hillfolk became more accepting of outsiders, the vast majority still remained xenophobic (or at least isolationist) until missionaries from the Brethren of the Shroud arrived in west Alabama, home of the largest hillfolk communities in the South. Using the hillfolk's (dubious) status as mutants and their trust of ghouls, the Brethren missionaries converted many hillfolk to the religion of the Shroud and in 2239, created the Hill Brethren Confederation, a loose alliance of Brethren aligned clans. This immediately became the largest faction in the hillfolk community and and drew the ire of other smaller clans. This brought a new spout of clan wars in Alabama that last will likely end with the hillfolk either bowing to the Brethren or forging into the future on their own. Most hillfolk just want to be left alone, free to tend to their stills and hunt.
The hillfolk are a quiet, "sneaky" people, choosing to avoid the politics and dangers of the wasteland for the safety of their hills and forests. They are also great listeners and watchers, often studying their prey or intruders for great lengths of time before taking action. Hillfolk are also expert trappers, setting out trip-wires and cage traps for animals and more elaborate booby traps for men and mutants. Direct confrontation with the enemy is a last resort for most Hillfolk.
Hillfolk are highly patriarchal, with the eldest and strongest man of the house effectively being his own "king", ruling over his gaggle of sister wives, distant cousins, and daughters as well as the occasional subservient son.
Alchoholism is rampant in the hillfolk community, as running stills and producing moonshine is a large part of their history. Chem usage is also prevalent but less so.
Unlike their swamper counterparts, the majority of hillfolk retained their Christian religious beliefs, albeit in a limited form. With literacy all but non-existent in the hillfolk community, the entire Bible has been, for the most part, reduced to a twisted form of the Ten Commandments and the belief in "Jebus". Rituals such as baptism are gone, and churchs stand empty.
Many Hillfolk in Alabama currently follow the religion of the Shroud perpetuated by the Brethren of the Shroud and have become zealots for the goal of mutant supremacy. This new religion has led to new divisions in the hillfolk community, and several clan wars have been fought over the topic.
Although most of their lives are short and bloody, hillfolk enjoy their own forms of entertainment, whether it be music, stories, or even recreational sports. Banjoes and harmonicas are favored instruments for music, although simply ham-boning is also accepted.
Notable Hillfolk Clans/Groups
- Hill Brethren Confederation- A confederation of clans aligned with the Brethren of the Shroud, the Hill Brethren are currently the largest united faction of hillfolk, numbering in the thousands. The Confederation is headed by the Oddy Clan in Ham as they are the largest and richest clan in the Confederation. However, most other hillfolk clans condemn the Hill Brethren as race traitors and raid them. The Confederation is located across much of western Alabama, stretching from the edges of the Golden Triangle Warzone to the fortified town of Ham.
- Hoochee Clan- The Hoochee Clan is the second largest hillfolk clan, inhabiting much of the former Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia. Known to be relatively open to outsiders compared to other clans, the Hoochee Clan primarily trades in game and its signature moonshine, "hooch".
- Talladega Clan- Located in the ruins of Talladega, Alabama, the Talladega Clan is the clan that is notorious for being the most hostile to outsiders. Living in makeshift trailers and garages centered on the town's decrepit racetrack, the Talledega Clan is a vicious, aggressive people who fully embrace the "alpha male" tradition and whose beta groups raid and steal as far south as Waldock Plaza and as far west as Meridian. Strange meat is common meal, and sister wives are the norm.
- The Lost Ones- A group of beta males who decided to never return to their communities, the Lost Ones live a hunter gatherer's lifestyle. They wander around the South trying to find their calling in life and are non-violent towards wastelanders but take no qualms cannibalizing raiders.
Swampers vs. Hillfolk
The hillfolk and the swampers are similar cultures, growing out of poor rural whites who isolated themselves from society. There are however some major differences between swampers and hillfolk.
Firstly, the location. Hillfolk live in the hills and rural areas of America, sometimes hundreds of miles inland. Swamper communities cling to the coastline, relying on the bayou for survival.
Also, the two groups' views on ghouls are radically different. Swampers view them as phantoms doomed to wander the earth and abominations while hillfolk see them as wisemen and the elders of the old world.
Finally, hillfolk are not as inclined to violence as swampers, at least by comparison. The majority of hillfolk are isolationist and see fighting simply as a way to survive, not as a form of entertainment. There are exceptions to this like the Talledega Clan, but they are the exception, not the rule.
All in all, the two cultures are different enough that if a hillfolk and a swamper met, they could tell the differences between each other.
- "Dull but useful, like a blunt knife."
- ―Noah Bollinger describes the hillfolk loyal to him
- "Giffs? What're those?"
- ―Pa Josiah of Ham meets caravaners for the first time (2192)