1. Gammer

    Gammer Active Member

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    Why Wouldn't they Want this Salt?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Gammer, Mar 23, 2020.

    Hey all,

    In my fantasy WIP, the MC and his friends are traveling through a place called the "Deadlands" and it's called that because a thousand or so years before the start of the story, the region was ruled by a lord who declared himself independent of the kingdom during a major war. The people, not wanting to be on the receiving end of the king's wrath for this treason, rebelled against the lord. Knowing all was lost, the lord summoned a djinn which, traditionally his clan only summoned in times of great danger or desperation because djinns and their magic tend to be extremely unpredictable. The lord made a wish that when he dies, he wants the land to wither and die with him to punish those who rebelled. The djinn followed the command and when the lord was executed, the djinn blighted the region (the earth and the regions rivers and lakes) with salt so no crops can ever truly grow and the people lost major income and are now destitute. Freshwater is now more valuable than gold in the region

    Anyway, my issue is that salt, well rock salt, is valuable to the other clans and regions. So the question is why wouldn't the people of the Deadlands make themselves rich by using the salt that was their curse to their advantage?

    Initially, I thought that the salt that was used to curse them was more akin to sea salt than rock salt, which is harder, but still possible to harvest, but rock salt is more in demand for persevering meat and seafood on a grander scale for trade so the land tends to go more for rock salt than sea salt, but even sea salt has its use for flavor. So, there would still be a market for it, especially from the richer castes.

    Then I thought due to the nature of the curse, the people of the other regions wouldn't want to use salt that originated from a curse, especially from a djinn, since they believe it will cause the curse to be spread to them and their lands. I thought that was kind of a weak explanation but it still fell in line with the superstitious nature of the land and the people to the point where they cannot see the value of what's in front of them.

    Any suggestions? Is there a reason I'm not seeing? Should I drop this aspect of the setting altogether? Thanks in advance for the help
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't feel this as weak at all, particularly in a world where magic is real, thus curses are quite literally more than just words. Salt can naturally come in several colors due to other substances present. Color the salt. Make it obvious and distinct from white salt.

    Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 3.04.30 PM.png
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2020
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  3. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    A curse sounds like a legitimate reason to avoid it to me. I know I would.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2020
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  4. Gammer

    Gammer Active Member

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    Oh! That's a fantastic idea! I completely forgot about that aspect of salt in my research. That will fit perfectly! Thanks!
     
  5. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    I think it's a fine reason, but you also asked if there was one you were missing, so I'll address that too. It doesn't take all that much salt to ruin land for growing. If you specifically want it to be an untapped resource, then ignore this entirely, but a simple reason not to harvest salt would be the impossibility of economically extracting it from the dirt. This might also be true with giant, harvestable chunks and "current" technology. A character could come up with a new mining/plowing technique. Or not, if you want it to stay in the ground.
     
  6. Gammer

    Gammer Active Member

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    Hmmm this pretty good too! Thank you for the additonal suggestion.
     
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  7. shiba0000

    shiba0000 Member

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    Maybe the cursed salt will slowly convert any biological material it touches, and people from uncontaminated regions have to deal with containing the spread of salt.
     
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  8. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Senior Member

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    There could also be some type of susceptibility by natives of the region to an ill effect of the salt, one that they are genetically predisposed to? It's not necessary that it be true, just that they believe it is true.

    For example.....several people drop dead of "unknown" causes and the rumour spreads that they all came into contact with this "salt" before it happened. Someone with a vested interest in keeping your native population poor and destitute could manipulate things so that comes true....
     
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  9. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    You could also combine some of these ideas: No one's ever bothered to come up with a way to extract the red salt because of the probable curse. A few people know that yes, there's a curse, but a hunk of red salt can be used for all sorts of magic and is semi-safe in the right hands. An enterprising character who's less superstitious than is healthy in a world of magic invents a salt harvester. Red salt is extracted. Chaos ensues. :)
     
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  10. Gammer

    Gammer Active Member

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    Funny enough this description perfectly matches a character the MC meets later, so this would work really well too, thanks for the suggestion :)
     
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  11. J.D. Ray

    J.D. Ray Member Supporter

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    I don't know if this is useful or not, but the material commonly known as "salt" is sodium-chloride. But "salt" in a scientific sense includes a number of materials. From the Wikipedia page on the subject:

    In chemistry, a salt is a solid chemical compound consisting of an ionic assembly of cations and anions.[1] Salts are composed of related numbers of cations (positively charged ions) and anions (negatively charged ions) so that the product is electrically neutral (without a net charge). These component ions can be inorganic, such as chloride (Cl−), or organic, such as acetate (CH3CO−2); and can be monatomic, such as fluoride (F−) or polyatomic, such as sulfate (SO2−4).
    Maybe the salt used is inedible.
     
  12. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    They'd have to sift it out of the dirt, right? That's hardly practical.
    I mean, look at the size of these things. That's rock salt.

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. J.D. Ray

    J.D. Ray Member Supporter

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    Well, yes, that's what salt mined out of a deposit looks like. But if you crushed that up into what we think of as rock salt (like what you use in an ice cream maker or to thaw the ice on your sidewalk), it would dissolve into the dirt, keep anything from growing, and be near impossible to mine out without a lot of water and energy.
     
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  14. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    Right. But I'm saying that you can't get it out of the soil once it's crushed up. When it's mined normally, it's in boulders, and if you can't do that you're lost.
     
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  15. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    @Gammer, congrats, by the way, on the best thread title I've seen in a while. It's beautifully ambiguous and intriguing. You can't read that question and not want to know more: Who is "they?" What's wrong with them that they don't want this salt!? What's wrong with the salt? It could be a writing prompt for the Flash Fiction Contest. You'd get a dozen different sets of answers to those questions.
     

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