I have a group of humanoid shapeshifters who live in the swamp. Although potentially irrelevant, they can shift between alligator (American Alligator) and human form either at will with significant concentration and training, or just use an artifact or object to do so. They live in the exact same type of world as ours in terms of continents, weather, and landmarks, with the same materials you'd find in the real-life locations. The humanoids in this case, live in our equivalent to the Florida Everglades. Stereotypical, yes, but it seemed like a decent example. Their numbers are on the smaller side, in the ten thousands with individual groups being in the dozens or rarely the hundreds, and their technological level is late stone age to early bronze age.

It's worth noting that I do not want them to drain the swamp, make artificial land, or anything similar. Leaving the swamp intact is important for their hunting. There is also not any beings that are significantly more technologically advanced to do anything that they couldn't such as giving imports, I don't want copouts. The infrastructure in question doesn't need to be fancy, but should protect them in both human and animal form, especially from nasty bugs like mosquitoes, and should be able to withstand potential flooding and storms without collapsing like wet cardboard.

In conclusion, how would the infrastructure of a swamp society evolve to deal with its environment?

Note: Living in a Giant Swamp - Construction, while very useful, it doesn't fully address some of my concerns such as making the homes viable for both alligator and human, how to keep out the bugs, and how to deal with things like hurricanes. The folk in the Giant Swamp question are also building the capital of an empire with Roman-era technology, which will give them many more resources and options than my specific group, who are more or less building villages, towns, and hamlets.

  • $\begingroup$ Hove you looked at traditional cultures that live in swampy areas, they tend to build platforms. $\endgroup$ – John Mar 29 at 2:52
  • $\begingroup$ @John I've looked a bit, but nothing really satisfied my requirements. Besides, some of the platforms I saw looked like they'd be demolished from a tad bit of flooding, not very hurricane-proof. $\endgroup$ – Jay Mar 30 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ Basically nothing a primitive culture can build in a swamp will survive hurricanes well. very little we can build can survive heavy flooding. $\endgroup$ – John Mar 31 at 2:20

I would argue for raft houses. Having it on the water means that gator people can easily get aboard, but it will not flood if the water level fluctuates. For hurricanes, if they have some warning, they can move the village out of the path. It would also help prevent attacks, as any invaders would have to find the village each time they want to attack it.

For insects, there are a few options. You could have your people weave insect nets. There are also plants you can plant, use their oils, or burn to provide protection. https://www.xtremelandscaping.com/10-insect-repelling-plants-south-florida-landscaping/, there are some plants in Florida that can be used.

To jump a little ahead, for food you have the easy ones like fishing, hunting, and gathering. For crops, you could plant in one area, then migrate around back to it at harvest time. This is assuming raft housing.



alligator tunnel


Alligators dig well. In some places they excavate tunnels for themselves. Such tunnels are the start for your gator people. They might enlarge underground chambers to let them stand upright. Or they might stick to gator form when they are down there. Or maybe when in human form they squirm along on their bellies which would be a horrific sight by torchlight.

Tunnels and subterranean dwellings would be stabilized by plant roots. They are probably partly filled with water much of the time and mostly filled some of the time.


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