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Humanoid Barbarians in Oriental Settings

by Gabriele Ferri

Hi, I'm still working on barbarians for M-China. Here are more info about humanoid barbarians (see also my earlier messages):

There are many different tribal groups;

Most common humanoids are goblins, trolls, kobolds and hobgoblins. Those tribes are slaves of other more developed humanoid-civilisations (Ogre-magi, half-orc, half-ogre, rakasta) who could be really dangerous for M-China, if they were united by a strong leader. By now they haven't a common leader, so they use only 50% of their military power for attack M-China, but maybe in the future;

I imagine this barbarians like those who threatened (and eventually destroyed) the Roman Empire. They are nomads, they travel in caravans and they've never founded a settlement bigger than a village. Even their villages are frequently abandoned because they aren't good in agriculture (they think that agriculture is inferior and let only captured humans practice it) and, so, they don't get enough food from the land. In fact they prefer hunting animals or attacking isolated villages to get food, hardware and even slaves. Many tribes have some sheep, yaks and horses.;

Each tribe is composed by 15/50 members (males and females), plus about 3 slaves for every important member (there are 3/10 important members in every tribe).

Social and political influence is often hereditary or is also gained with experience and age.;

About 5 tribes together form a horde. Those 5 tribes are formed by slaves-humanoids (goblins, trolls, kobolds or hobgoblins). Please note that there often is a slave-humanoid race who is dominant between the other slave-races in the horde. Humanoids who belong to other races than the dominant one are often killed during skirmishes caused by racial hate. Every horde is ruled by a another group of humanoids who is superior for intellect, strength or magic (ogre-magi, half-orc, half-ogre or rakasta). The ruling humanoids may not belong all at the same race. The ruling group's uncooperative and evil tendencies don't let the hordes cooperate unless their survival itself is in danger. The rulers think of their slaves as animals; they don't hesitate to kill them if they want to rebel (they remind what happened centuries ago, when a slave-rebellion and a M-Chinese offensive put in serious danger their ancestors' lives).;

Slave-humanoids wear animal furs, and in war, they put grass and leaves on them to increase stealth, and draw symbols on their faces and bodies to incite fear. Note that some furs (especially the ones from yaks) offer the same protection of a leather armour. Sometimes they have wooden shields decorated which paintings of animals or geometrical patterns. Slave-races can make some primitive weapons like bows, staffs, maces; but they can also have some rusty short swords or daggers stolen in their raids (if they are lucky enough to hide them, because robbery is frequent even in the horde). Ruling-humanoids instead have steel weapons stolen in the raids (note that barbarians don't know how to make them) or, at least, some very well made, very beautiful, and maybe even enchanted by a shaman, primitive weapon. They often have artistic wooden shields and leather armours (sometimes they put some wood or bronze on them, gaining a -1 / -2 AC and +5/10 Kg weight). The most important and the richest leaders wear a bronze, gold and silver plated, helmet.

When they travel, they rides horses, but they aren't so good like humans barbarians (I'll speak about them in a later message). When they stop, slaves have no tents at all or, if it's really cold and windy, they uses a small wooden wall to stop the wind and old, ugly, rotten animal furs to cover themself. Rulers can have, depending on their culture and the hardware available, a tent, a small wooden cottage, or a room digged underground. Animals are usually left free, but they are closely guarded because robbery is feared. They have great knowledge of their territory and, if they know that they are going in a place with no trees at all, they bring fire-wood with them.;

In war, they uses an hit-and-run-away tactic if the raiding party is small, but sometimes, when they are really low on food or slaves, they join in a greater horde and try to get past the defences of M-China. Sometimes they fail, but sometimes they succeed.

When they are past the defences, they split again in small groups in order to get more loot possible quickly (note that smaller group are very rarely composed by more than 2 different races). They search for gold, food or whatever they can need as quick as possible, then they escape to their territories. When they reach their homeland, humanoids fight for get the best animals and stolen weapons and armours. Anyway, slaves can be assigned only to important generals, tribe-leaders or shamans.;

Many hordes have an healer. It's a humanoid-cleric who worship his race's own Immortal (see GAZ about Broken Lands and Immortal boxed set for more info) and have to heal the rulers. It often forbidden to heal slaves in peace, but rulers may agree if they are in war and they need soldier. The healer uses healing spells, but he also is expert in preparing healing potions with vegetables (he can also prepare many poisons...).

Shamans are less common that healers. They are magic users, but there are some difference with the human ones. They don't have a spellbook: when they learn a spell, they tattoo it on their own skin (humanoids cannot read and write, but shamans uses some kind of ideograms). Shamans can't learn many spells: they have a -4 malus on the maximum number of spells they can learn and also on the maximum spell-level (therefore, there could be some exceptions for really very old shamans, or for some humanoid heroes). When a shaman casts a spell, he must shake his mystic sceptre (an artistic staff which a skull on it's top and some precious gems in the skull), shout his magic words very loudly and, if the spell is very powerful, dance. More power a shaman gets, more valuable must be his sceptre (more gems, staff made of the finest wood, a skull of an important M-Chinese....).