Gears of Kesmai
Many bands of barbarians wander on the wide plains and deserts of the central continent, moving constantly in response to the demands of their environment. Some of them are hunters, some are gatherers, and a few are herdsmen; all periodically pack up their villages and move, searching for new grazing or hunting grounds.
The tribes are similar physically, big-boned and strong, with thick black hair and dark brown or blue eyes. They are not overly tall, and their wide shoulders and thick necks make them appear even shorter than they are.
All of the tribes produce warriors: fighters, rangers, and obviously barbarians. Their love of the battle axe or mace is one of the few things the tribes have in common. Barbarians share a great disdain for distance weapons, which they consider suitable only for cowards and civilized fops. Once a barbarian obtains a satisfactory weapon, it is seldom replaced, since barbarians believe that each kill bonds the weapon to the warrior, making it an extension of himself. Barbarians firmly believe that if a weapon is treated honorably and fed enough red blood in battle, the bonding becomes so strong that the weapon will magically return to his side if lost or stolen.
In general, the tribes are ruled by a paramount chief, chosen from the chiefs of the clan. To be considered a chief, a member of the clan must be a great warrior or druid. Although the tribes honor the druidic gods, they do not actually use the word “druid.” Warrior-priests are said to “speak to the wind,” and are therefore known as “Speakers.” It is considered acceptable to gain wealth through means other than fighting, but no tribe member, no matter how rich, would be considered a chief unless also a proven warrior or Speaker. The warrior is the only export from the barbarian tribes.
Five of the tribes have gotten large and powerful enough to be recognized by outsiders. These are:
Shriker Clan – This clan has many great Speakers. Their life is organized around elaborate ceremonies that their Speakers to the Wind perform at various times during the lunar month. They believe that if the entire cycle of moon ceremonies is ever performed flawlessly, without the slightest wrong inflection of voice or smallest deviation of ritual dance, then the Shrikers will be given dominion over the entire world.
Wind Knot Clan – This group consists mostly of warriors. Usually, they import their Speakers from other clans, and then pay very little attention to them. The only reason they bother with Speakers at all is that they do not wish to be without something the Shrikers have, however useless they deem it. The average member of the Wind Knot Clan has faith in nothing but his weapon.
Grass Snake Clan – This tribe has many Speakers who tend toward mysticism, and even more members who are accomplished rogues. It is one of the few tribes with a woman for a Paramount Chief. She is said to be very powerful, even for a Speaker, and is said to be able to summon a recently departed soul back into its body.
Mountain Cloud Clan – This is the only barbarian clan to have any wizards. Needless to say, conducting arcane experiments is very difficult in a nomadic environment, but the clan is so proud of having something no other clan has, that they will help out whenever they can. They are beginning to be rewarded for this devotion, since their wizards are reaching levels of power where they can be useful, rather than expensive luxuries.
Dark Moon Clan – This clan is famous, or rather infamous, for sorcerers. They perform dire ceremonies during the dark of the moon, seeking to summon things best left unroused. Rumor names them murderers and cannibals, but in reality they are much worse.
While these are the most well-known of the tribes, there are many more, some consisting of only a few families, and others with hundreds of warriors and their kin – and each with its own beliefs and ceremonies.