Northern Races

Contents

NonHumans: Humans
Dwarves Ice Hunters
Elves & Half-Elves Northmen
Gnomes Reghedmen
Halflings Uthgardt Barbarians
Half-Orcs  
Orcs  
Trolls  
Lizardmen  
Aarakocra  

 

The variety of both human and nonhuman - some would say inhuman - races call the North their home. These range everywhere from dwarves to the various human cultures in the Barbaric North. This section provides a brief racial overview for the North.

Nonhumans

The Wildlands is a stronghold for a variety of nonhuman races, and even the elves are flourishing here now that Hellgate Keep has been destroyed. Dwarves, once thought disappearing from the North, have recently taken control of the Citadel of Many Arrows, and dwarves from the southern lands are slowly migrating northward. While the North is still primarily the home to humans and monsters, the nonhumans of the Savage Frontier have their territory here as well.

Dwarves

The grim, reclusive, and dour dwarves normally separate themselves from other folk. It should be no surprise that few dwarf communities survive here. Ironmaster on the shores of the Cold Run, Citadel Adbar in the Ice Mountains, Mithral Hall, and the newly liberated Felbarr (formerly the Citadel of Many Arrows) are the only holds of any consequence remaining, though several cities - notably Mirabar, Neverwinter, Silverymoon, and Sundabar - have dwarven quarters in their walls. Men trade freely in Adbar, but they have few dealings with the isolated dwarves of Ironmaster other than to battle orcs or purchase iron goods. Many other trading concerns are concerned about the stability of Felbarr, as the old citadel is one orc horde away from being leveled.

Dwarves acknowledge but one king, Harbomm of Citadel Adbar, but are more loyal to tribe and clan than to king. Yet in time of need the clans unite under the king's banner. They are the finest forgemen and metalcrafters in Faerûn and produce armor and weapons beyond compare. Merchants of Sundabar still bring magical weapons south from Adbar for sale in distant markets. While the demand for such weapons and armor is high, the production is diminishing.

The number of dwarves is dwindling; the birth of young dwarves doesn't keep pace with battle losses and the deaths of the aged and infirm. Craftmasters die with their secrets and young smiths find too much call for their services in battle. If encountered wandering in the wilderness, dwarves tend to be extremely suspicious of strangers. They think others want to find and loot the halls of their ancestors (which is often what they themselves want to do).

Elves and Half-Elves

Though at least two elven realms once existed, the closest elven land is Evereska. Elves are wanderers and adventurers, though a realm of drow exists. Elves of most nonaquatic subraces dwell in Waterdeep and its neighboring territory, and the Ardeep Forest houses retired elven adventurers. Sundabar has a half-elven population, and Loudwater and Daggerford a small one, due to halfelven descendants of Eaerlann who wed other half-elves.

Some folk in the North (law-abiding humans and dwarves) consider the elven withdrawal to Evermeet a "desertion" from racial responsibility and treat elves with suspicion and contempt. Long-standing elven families, such as Elorfindar Floshin who lives north of Daggerford, are held in high esteem by most folk, regardless of the disdain held by humans for the rest of the elven race.

Rumors are just beginning to circulate that the elves of the High Forest have plans of establishing an elven presence in the North again. Fortunately, such idle gossip is quickly cast off as wild tales by many of the local rulers - and this might just give the elves the time they need to actually establish themselves again (assuming such gossip is true, of course).

Gnomes

This once-populous race of wry little folk is nearly gone, their realms overrun by orcs until few remained. The survivors avoid contact with all but dwarves, but are highly sought by nobles and merchants who prize their work with toys and illusions.

Halflings

Four to five months of fierce winter doesn't appeal to the average halfling. While Waterdeep has a fair population (and a milder winter), it's rare to find them in the North.

Half-orcs

Given the vast orc population and the amount of raiding, one might suspect a plague of these half-breeds, yet there are few. Northerners have a distinct dislike for anything even vaguely orcish, and only the most human-looking half-orc can pass safely among northern folk.

Orcs

The five geographically divided orc clans worship an alliance of chaotic, orcish gods. In addition to the clerical spells granted by the god, they sometimes control creatures associated with their deity, using them as mounts, familiars, or bodyguards. Shamans of Bahgtru mount mighty oxen; shamans of Shargaas summon bats, giant bats, and colossal doombats; Yurtrus shamans animate dead to create skeletons and zombies; priestesses of Luthic (also shamans) summon cave bears. Tribal names are variants of orcish gods' holy symbols. Thus, the icon of the Stinking Claw would be a rotting claw (a variant of Yurtrus's white hand).

Orc holy spots are marked by huge piles of humanoid skulls. Orcs are so devoted to their holy sites they become berserk if they find a site desecrated, destroying all they encounter in their frenzy.

Fallen Lands Orcs: The orcs of the Fallen Lands and Graypeaks follow King Ogrash, a powerful orcish shaman and warrior who's reputed to wield Skullripper, a halberd +3. To the south, many petty orcish kings wage constant battle against each other. More often than not, orcs encountered in the southern region are involved in battle with other orcs. Known tribes of the Fallen Lands include King Ogrash's Bloody Scar tribe, Black Slasher, Severed Fist, Seven Eye, and Black Bone tribes. Orcs of the Fallen Lands have cavalry - 20% of all encountered orc bands are mounted on ugly, black, ostrichlike flightless birds (use ostrich statistics). Most mounted orcs have short bows and lances.

High Forest Orcs: These orcs dwell in tunnels and small villages about two days' journey into the wood. They're arch-foes of rangers and possess forestry skills. They worship a power they call Herne the Wild Hunter, a lawful evil variation of the Master of the Hunt (which, in reality, is Malar with a different mask). Orc tribes in the High Forest include the Tanglethorn, Sharpspike, Bloody Eye, and Horned Lord tribes. Orcs of the High Forest have the nonmagical abilities of rangers, but they gain no pluses in battle against goblin-class creatures. Wild Hunter shamans actually grow stag antlers from their heads.

Ice Mountains Orcs: Most of the orcs within these mountains are loyal to King Graul, son of Eldoul. The orcs of the Ice Mountains wage constant war with the dwarves of Citadel Adbar and stage frequent raids against Silverymoon and Sundabar.

Spine of the World Orcs: In these bleak mountains, the most powerful orc tribes skulk in stone fortresses stolen from the dwarves and renamed Eyegad, Tame, and Vokan. Within their gloomy, squat buildings and oppressive, black temples are the visible tips of sprawling underground tunnels and cavern complexes that house tribes with names like Skortchclaw, Skreetch, and Bleeding Eye. Others, like the Slashers and Orcs of the Severed Tongue, lurk in the unnumbered small caves that pepper the valleys and passes of these mineral-rich mountains.

The Skortchclaw tribe, under King Ugra Ngarl, is forcing goblin slaves to mine mithral beneath Fortress Eyegad. The metal is apparently being sold in great quantity to someone in the High Forest.

Trollmoor Orcs: These orcs are loosely organized and rove the Evermoors in bands to prey on travelers, attacking boats on the Rauvin, raiding against outlying settlements near Nesmé and Everlund, and organizing in the fall to attack the Uthgardt Runemeet at Flintrock. Known orc tribes in the moors include the Vile Rune, Dripping Spear, Bonesnapper, Red Murderer, and Throat Slitter tribes. They worship the various orc gods - Bahgtru, Gruumsh, Ilneval, Luthic, Shargaas, and Yurtrus.

The various tribes have been having some difficulty with the sudden influx of giants, and there are reports that the entire Vile Rune tribe was destroyed by a black dragon. For the last year, the orcs have concentrated their attacks on the outskirts of the Evermoors, ready to run at the first sign of a black wing or the thundering fall of a nearby boulder.

Trolls

After orcs, trolls are the North's scourge. The "everlasting ones" roam the wilds, chasing, attacking, and eating all they meet. These fierce creatures are currently fleeing the Evermoors, having met foes even more powerful than themselves - giants and at least one dragon. This is creating a free-for-all battleground outside the city of Nesmé.

Lizardmen

The lizardmen of the Mere of Dead Men are the degenerate descendants of a reptilian race. While they don't hate mankind or demihumans, they've no interest in them either; they treat all other beings - except dragons - as cattle. Sightings of lizardmen usually include descriptions of them dancing wildly around megalithic stone pillars or skulking about Uthgardt mounds. Lizardmen are accompanied by a shaman of 1d6+1 levels. There's a 1-in-20 chance the group is in the service of a lizardman lich and another 1-in-20 chance the lich is with them. If they encounter bullywugs or aarakocra, the lizardmen attempt to capture them for later sacrifice.

Aarakocra

The Aarakocra, the bird men of the Star Mounts, are the extremely secretive descendants of one of the ancient creator races. Were it not for an occasional sighting made of manlike forms flying above the High Forcst, mankind would be totally unaware of their presence here. They dwell in six small villages ware of their presence here. They dwell in six small villages on the upper slopes of the central mountains. At least one village is located at the headwaters of The Unicorn Run.

Humans

The North is populated by humans with a variety of cultures. There's no unified human nation, only individual towns, villages, city-states, and roaming barbarians loosely linked by trade. A starting PC might be from any one of these folk.

Ice Hunters

This ancient people lived here long before other humans. They tend to be short, dark-haired, and broad-faced with light brown skin. They were the original primitives dwelling on the shores of the Trackless Sea. The arrival of the Northmen drove them farther and farther north until now they live only in small tribal communities along the Cold Run and on the Ice Peak (though several villages have become Northmen towns).

Ice Hunters stolidly resist the culture of other people. They live simple, rarely violent lives - fishing and hunting seal, whale, walrus, and bear on the floes of the Sea of Moving Ice. On land, they travel by canine-drawn sleds. At sea, they use small watertight boats of sealskin (khveks) and larger boats (oumyeks). Though primitive, Ice Hunters are noted for their wisdom. They're protective of their real names, and use nicknames when dealing with outsiders. Ice Hunter nicknames are based on nature and rarely indicate personal achievement, such as "Sky in the Morning,". "Man of Red Sealskin," "Ten Dogs," "Bride of Reindeer," or "Wake of Ice."

Northmen

The term refers to one of several seagoing, warlike people found on the coast north of Waterdeep and the western islands, including Gundarlun, Ruathym, Norheim, and Norland. The tall, fair-haired, sea-loving Northmen were the third human people in the North. Dwarven records say the Ice Hunters ranged the North millennia before Netheril, who themselves were centuries before the Northmen.

The Northmen's primitive ancestors built small villages along the coast. Many grew to importance, including fabled Illusk (Luskan), Eigersstor (Neverwinter), Port Llast, and Nimoar's Hold (Waterdeep). Early Northmen avoided the wild interior; they farmed the rocky - but rich - coastal lands, fished the waters warmed by north-bound currents, hunted deer in the forests, and whaled in the Trackless Sea. Yet with summer, the call of the sea would be irresistible to the men, and they would set sail to raid nearby communities.

From Kythorn to early Marpenoth, the barbaric battle cries of Northmen were heard in Lantan, Amn, Tethyr, Calimshan, and other cities of the Shining Sea, even as far south as Nimbral. The Northmen explored the Trackless Sea, discovered Illern, Gundarlun, Ruathym, The Purple Rocks, the Whalebones, and eventually the Moonshaes (though others had been there before them). Still others braved and explored the orc infested interior, becoming partners of The Fallen Kingdom, ancestors of the Uthgardt, and mercenaries for Ascalhorn.

Though they're referred to as barbarians, not all fit this classification. Many of these sea raiders have become civilized, primarily due to the influence of southern folk. They farm, fish, and mine their rugged lands and then trade their goods with southern merchants. Many once-feared raiders have become merchants whose skill at bargaining equals or betters the warlike talents of their ancestors, such that many Northmen merchants return with more southern booty than do raiders.

A savage edge remains; the Luskar and the islanders are fierce and warlike. Fierce dragonships ply the waters, whose wily pirates can outrun and outmaneuver heavily laden merchant galleons. Each summer, the battle cries of Northmen raiders still ring loud in the south.

The barbaric Northmen are bold, impetuous, and fierce in battle. Other creatures are treated respectfully if their battle skill is obvious. Like other barbarians, Northmen dislike magic and mages. In rural communities, magic-use is punishable by death. Clerics are treated with aloof disdain - even Northmen shamans receive no respect.

Northmen love a fight and prize strength and weapon prowess above all. To prove themselves, Northmen war with whomever they feel they can defeat. It's uncommon to find a Northman kingdom not at war. They enjoy hearty food, boisterous songs, good drink (particularly mead and ale), and treat their women with respect, yet they cherish their precious longships beyond all property or family.

The battle axe is the weapon of choice. With axe in one hand and a sturdy shield in the other, a Northman believes he can conquer the world. Missile weapons other than the javelin are weaklings' tools, since they don't rely on the strength of the warrior.

At sea, raiders rarely wear armor heavier than studded leather and shield. Metal armor drags one down to Umberlee's bosom too quickly. For land raids, chain mail is donned by those lucky enough to own it. A king or high captain usually owns plate mail.

Some fighters (a 20% chance for each warrior) have the ability to drive themselves into a frenzy in battle. Warriors who demonstrate this aptitude are often gathered by their king into a royal bodyguard or unit of elite soldiers. The fighters can bring on the berserker rage simply by contemplating imminent combat or in response to a surprise attack. Berserker Northmen receive either a +2 bonus on attack rolls, or they may attack twice per round (never both); they need never check morale. A player who wishes to avoid having his Northman consumed by berserker rage can make a saving throw vs. polymorph at -2. If successful, the Northman doesn't become berserk during that fight.

Reghedmen

The barbarians of Icewind Dale, also known as the men of the tundra, eke out a harsh and bitter life between the Reghed Glacier and the Sea of Moving Ice. The Reghedman are tall - taller than most southerners by a head. They're fair-haired (blond, red, or light brown) and blue-eyed. Like all barbarians, they're suspicious of magic, equating it with both weakness and evil. The only power they recognize is the power of a man's weapon arm. Each tribe is formally ruled by a king. Known tribes are the Tribe of the Elk, the Tribe of the Wolf, the Tribe of the Bear, and the Tribe of the Tiger.

In the recent past, they sought to invade the Ten Towns, only to be repulsed by an unexpected alliance of the towns and the dwarves of Kelvin's Cairn. The barbarian warriors were destroyed. Heafstaag, the wily king of the Tribe of the Elk, allied the tribes with Akar Kessell for the evil wizard's attack on the Ten Towns. Wulfgar, a barbarian youth whose life was spared by the dwarf Bruenor, slew Heafstaag in a challenge and became king. He brought the barbarians to the Ten Towns, but as allies, not enemies. With their aid, the townsfolk repulsed Kessell's horde.

Only a few tribes now roam the wilderness. The rest dwell in the Ten Towns, learning the ways of civilization, having completed rebuilding from the destruction. Their leader is Revjak, an elder barbarian who succeeded Wulfgar Dragonslayer, who rules from Caer-Konig. This city, relative to the other nine cities, contains the greatest number of barbarians.

The tundra barbarians worship both beast totems and the god Tempos (their name for Tempus). Unlike the Uthgardt, the tundra barbarian shamans cannot call upon their totem's beast power. The barbarians dwelling on the tundra can raise a horde of 250 men. The barbarians in the towns can raise 500.

Uthgardt Barbarians

The Uthgardt are a black-haired and blue-eyed folk descended from a mixture of Northmen, Netherese, and a few savage tribes. One of these descendent tribes includes the Beorunni, who live by raiding, hunting, gathering, and farming.

Presently, the Uthgardt are divided into scattered tribes, each named after the beast totems which Uthgar conquered - Black Lion, Thunderbeast, Red Tiger, Blue Bear (although there's not much left of them right now), Great Worm, Sky Pony, Tree Ghost, Black Raven, Griffon, and Gray Wolf. Although civilization has come north in waves throughout history, much of the Uthgardt land is wild and untamed. Their lands extend north into the Spine, south to Stone Bridge, east to Cold Wood, and west to Neverwinter Wood.

Although some tribes have embraced agriculture and fixed habitations, the Uthgardt have few stable villages. Most tribes wander the wilderness in small clans or family groups and live within a few weeks' travel of their ancestor mounds. Tradition is the centerpiece of Uthgardt life, and this blind devotion to tradition keeps them savage. Strength is everything, and civilization is a weakness not tolerated. Among the Uthgardt, men are warriors and hunters - women tend to gathering and family needs. They have no written language and no art beyond geometric carvings and clothing decoration. Religion and philosophy focus on war, plunder, and survival. They're superstitious, with a paranoid dislike of magic.To reveal oneself as a magic-user to an Uthgardt warrior is to ask him to kill you.

The Uthgardt have little to do with city folk, other than as prey, though some tribes have made "civilized" alliances. Both lone travelers and large caravans are considered ripe fruit for plunder. Though they prey on civilized folk and frequently fight among themselves, they're quick to unite - even with non-Uthgardt - against their ancestral enemy: the orcs.

In addition to hand axe, knife, and spear, the Uthgardt favor the battle axe, atlatl and javelin, and long bow. Most barbarians wear leather or studded leather armor, and a chieftain is normally found with chain mail. Shields, when used at all, are typically spiked bucklers, something that a warrior can use as a weapon when necessary.