Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Among Savage Men

Wampus Country is home to a number of defined tribes or family groups that can fairly be called 'barbarian', in that their ways are quite foreign to the civilized man.  Below are excerpts from the recent monograph A Civilized Child's Introduction to Savagery (various authors, Cobblestone Publishing, River-Town).

When we refer to a barbarian tribe as 'civilized', we of course do not mean that they are any less potentially savage, or that they subscribe to the ways of rational men.  In this case the appellation is shorthand for recommended means of approach; to wit, a cautious man may trade and negotiate with civilized tribesmen.  This does not mean, however, that they should be taken at their word, and indeed many a merchant has spent the bulk of a transaction concerned that he should be clubbed or riddled with arrows long before he had gold in pocket.

The most genteel of the barbarians, the Cloud Rabbit tribe span the length and breadth of the plains of Wampus Country.  Some families are semi-nomadic, while others maintain villages and farms.  Cloud Rabbits may be recognized by their characteristic long hair, colorful clothing, and partial adoption of civilized fashion (bowler hats seem to be in vogue of late).  The Cloud Rabbits worship a panoply of animal spirits, and have left their mark throughout the land by carving and erecting various totem poles depicting these heavenly beasts.

At the other end of the spectrum lie the Black Eagles, a tribe of bloodthirsty warriors of fearful mien.  Their tribesmen wear their hair in plaits, file their teeth to fine points, and often scar themselves during incomprehensible rituals saluting their dubious godlings.  Should you encounter a mixed group of Black Eagles - men and women - it is likely a family in transit, and may be safe to approach for trade or directions; but if you see a group of only young males on the next ridge, best to avoid what might be a party of braves out to prove their mettle against any convenient skull.

Living on the southern shore of Shining Lake, the Red Sky people are accomplished fisher-folk; and, beyond that, they maintain exemplary relations with the Lake-born and can call upon those fish-men for aid in times of need.  This alliance has made the Red Sky people not only well-defended, but also wealthy, as merchants who cannot trade with the Lake-born instead use the Red Sky as middlemen.  The Red Sky people tend to shave the sides of their heads - males and females - and use various concoctions to spike and dye their remaining strip of hair.

To the north, the Ghost Horse people roam the steppes from the piney woods all the way to the glaciers.  They are accomplished riders, and cover both their own skin and that of their mounts with a bright white woad-like substance apparently made from clay.  Few merchants have had dealings with them, for the Ghost Horse will have no truck with civilized men who are known to deal with the Freeholders, who are their rivals.

Although they can be seen in northern towns, doing business and making merry, have no doubt that the Freeholders are a savage people.  Commonly bearded, with their fair hair braided and entwined with feathers, the Freeholders traditionally make their way by farming, hunting, and raiding those who settle too near their self-proclaimed boundaries.  And though they be drunken barbarians, do the Freeholders not, in their own way, embody the spirit of the frontier?  Freeholders worship a trio of sky-gods, and believe that their ancestors came from the heavens, and shall one day return thence.

Not every tribe once known still exists...

At the northern edge of Snollygoster Swamp, the Yellowscale tribe cloaked themselves in alligator-skins and attacked supply lines during Grandpa's War.  Although they were known merely to be opportunists rather than allied with the enemy, a punitive expedition was sent forth, and the Yellowscales were driven into the swamp and killed to a man.

The quick-sprinting cheetah is very nearly an extinct species in Wampus Country, but we know they were once numerous enough to be worshipped by the putative 'Cheetah People', whose middens and artifacts we have found on the plains.  Dr. Hornapple suggests they may have been conquered by, or folded into, the Cloud Rabbit tribe, but the Cloud Rabbits themselves have no tale which reflects this.

Some barbarians should never be approached - their savagery knows no bounds.

Reports of a beetle-worshiping tribe to the east have not been well substantiated, but reportedly they wear horned headdresses and paint themselves green and purple.

During the tumult of Grandpa's War, three barbarian tribes allied themselves with the Great Desert Lich, and so live in ignominy - if they still live.  Different sources name the tribes variously, although one group was definitely the Rattlesnake People; all three peoples are suspected of worshiping fell powers long before the Lich got hold of them.

A steppe-raider of the Ghost Horse People.

Black Eagle warriors in their finery.

Representatives of a merchant consortium come to parley with Cloud Rabbits.
A large Cloud Rabbit settlement.
A mercenary company tangles with angry savages.
During the Long Drought some years back, barbarians of the plains hunted giraffe to near-extinction.
Courageous Red Sky hunters attempt to secure a lake hippo to barbecue for a religious ceremony.


  1. Very cool. I've been looking forward to getting more on Wampus's native peoples.

  2. I enjoy the way they're all over the map of historical premoderns - throw some crazy early Gauls or Celts in there - maybe just steal some stuff from Slaine. Lotus Eaters as well - I wonder what lotus eaters in Wampus look like.